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A  Story  of  Challenge 


BY    J.     M.    S.     CARELESS 




Here  in  one  inexpensive  volume  is  the  story 
of  Canada  from  earliest  times  to  the  present. 
Here  are  presented  the  major  facts  of 
Canada's  history  and  the  main  forces  that 
have  shaped  it:  the  pressures  and  promises  of 
Canadian  geography*  the  pull  of  the  United 
States,  the  influences  stemming  from 
Britain  and  Prance,  and  the  interrelations 
of  the  French-  and  English-speaking 
communities  in  Canada*  Above  all*  this  is  a 
story  of  challenge*  the  challenge  of  a  vast 
land  to  t*  group  of  scattered  colonies  which 
have  emerged  after  immense  difficulties 
to  become  a  continent-wide  nation  of  North 

This  is  history  as  it  should  be  wniUM. 
Professor  Careless^  first-rate  scholarship  and 
brilliant  style  combine  in  an  eminently 
readable  volume  for  both  the  student  and 
the  general  reader* 




A  Story  of  Challenge 


J.   M.    S.    CARELESS 

Chairman  of  the  Department  of  History 
University  of  Toronto 



©    J.    M.    S.    CARELESS,    1963 

All  rights  reserved -no  part  of  this  book  may  be 
reproduced  in  any  form  without  permission  in  writing 
from  the  publishers.  Mimeographing  or  reproducing 
mechanically  in  any  other  way  passages  from  this 
book  without  the  written  permission  of  the  pub- 
lisher is  an  infringement  of  the  copyright  law. 

First  published  1953 

Revised  and  enlarged  edition  1963 

Reprinted  1964 

Library  of  Congress  Catalogue  Card  No.  64-20638 

Printed  in  Canada  by  The  Bryant  Press  Ltd 


This  is  a  revised  and  enlarged  edition  of  a  book  first  published  in 
1953.  The  preface  to  the  original  work  outlined  its  frame  of 
reference  and  the  author's  general  attitude  to  its  theme  of 
Canadian  history.  That  preface  still  seems  worth  repeating  in 
part,  as  expressing  the  nature  of  this  volume. 

'In  the  following  pages  I  have  tried  to  present  the  major  facts  of 
Canada's  history  and  the  main  forces  that  have  shaped  it;  the 
pressures  and  promises  of  Canadian  geography,  the  pull  of  the 
United  States,  the  influences  stemming  from  Britain  and  France, 
and  the  interrelations  of  the  French-  and  English-speaking  com- 
munities in  Canada.  The  book's  main  theme,  however,  is  the 
emergence  of  a  Canadian  nation  out  of  scattered  colonies,  in 
response  to  the  challenge  of  the  vast  Canadian  land  and  the  forces 
that  have  played  on  its  inhabitants.  Without  overestimating  this 
national  growth,  one  may  claim  that  there  has  indeed  been  a 
distinctive  Canadian  achievement,  the  product  of  long  and 
enduring  efforts  to  build  a  community  in  the  northern  hah0  of  the 
North  American  continent  separate  from  the  United  States. 

'There  is  no  attempt  here  to  ignore  the  obvious  limitations  of 
partly  developed  Canadian  nationalism  -  nor  to  view  nationalism 
as  a  supremely  worthy  development  in  itself.  Yet  this  study 
finds  the  very  core  of  Canadian  history  in  the  fact  that  a  separate 
Canadian  community  has  always  survived  in  North  America,  and 
still  continues  to  grow.  The  problems  of  creating  a  continent- 
wide  Canadian  unity  have  been  immense;  and  yet  a  degree  of 
unity  has  been  created,  maintained,  and  gradually  strengthened. 
Hence  the  general  tone  of  the  book  is  neither  typical  Canadian 
pessimism  concerning  Canada's  shortcomings  as  a  self-conscious 
nation,  nor  equally  typical  optimism  regarding  the  country's 
"limitless  resources"  and  all-excusing  "youth".  It  is,  rather,  a 


surprised  and  measured  satisfaction  that  so  much  has  been 
accomplished  in  the  face  of  such  grave  difficulties.' 

A  decade  later,  these  words  themselves  have  become  a  tiny  bit 
of  history,  reflecting  perhaps  some  of  the  sense  of  achievement  in 
Canada  during  the  booming  i95o's.  Yet  now,  in  the  strained 
i96o's,  the  author  would  not  greatly  wish  to  alter  them.  His 
satisfaction  at  Canadian  achievement  might  be  still  more  quali- 
fied, his  consciousness  of  the  strengthening  of  Canadian  unity 
somewhat  less  certain.  Nevertheless,  his  awareness  that  Canada 
throughout  her  history  has  met  and  survived  repeated  and 
rigorous  challenges  still  gives  him  a  basis  for  believing  that  she 
will  continue  to  do  so. 


February  >  1963 




1.  The  Challenge  of  the  Land  3 

2.  Sectionalism  and  the  St.  Lawrence  5 

3.  Influences  by  Land  and  Sea  9 

4.  The  Regions  of  Canada  12 

Chapter   2  THE  ACTORS  APPEAR 

1.  The  Indians  and  the  Land  i? 

2.  The  Red  Man  and  the  White  21 

3.  The  Europeans  Enter  23 

4.  The  Codfish  and  the  Beaver  25 

Chapter   3  THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,  1534-1663 

1.  A  Century  of  Exploration  without  Occupation  31 

2.  The  Day  of  Champlain  34 

3.  For  the  Glory  of  God  4° 

4.  The  PerH  of  the  Iroquois  44 

Chapter  4  ROYAL  GOVERNMENT  AND  EXPANSION,  1663-1702 

1.  The  French  Crown  takes  Command  47 

2.  The  Work  of  Talon  50 

3.  Expansion,  Conflict  and  the  Rule  of  Frontenac  52 

4.  Acadia:  a  Backward  Colony  57 

Chapter   5  THE  LIFE  OF  NEW  FRANCE,  1663-1760 

1.  The  Structure  of  Society  59 

2.  The  Seigneurial  System  61 

3.  The  Role  of  the  Church  64 

4.  The  Life  of  the  People  67 

5.  The  Life  of  New  France  and  Modern  French 

Canada  7° 




Chapter   6  THE  STRUGGLE  OF  EMPIRES,  1702-60 

1.  The  Rivals  for  America  73 

2.  The  British  Empire  in  America  76 

3.  'English  Canada'  in  the  Day  of  New  France  79 

4.  The  Mounting  Conflict  84 

5.  The  Final  Struggle  88 



Chapter   7  THE  AGE  OF  THE  AMERICAN  REVOLUTION,  1760-91 

1.  Canada  in  the  First  British  Empire  97 

2.  The  Problem  of  Quebec  100 

3.  The  Impact  of  the  Revolution  104 

4.  The  Coming  of  the  Loyalists  109 

Chapter   8  THE  SHAPINGOF  BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,  1791-1821 

1.  Constitutional  Changes  and  the  Second  Empire  116 

2.  The  Rising  Colonies  of  British  North  America  121 

3.  Danger  on  the  Western  Border  128 

4.  The  Second  Struggle  with  the  Americans  131 

5.  The  Kingdom  of  the  Fur  Trade  136 



1.  The  Migration  from 'Britain  145 

2.  Advances  in  Transportation  151 

3.  The  Maritime  and  St  Lawrence  Trading  Systems  155 

4.    The  Pioneer  Age 

Chapter  10  THE  DEMAND  FOR  REFORM,  1815-37 

1.  The  Problem  of  Colonial  Government 

2.  Reform  and  Rebellion  in  Upper  Canada 

3.  Racial  Strife  and  Rebellion  in  Lower  Canada 

4.  Peaceful  Reform  in  the  Maritimes 







1.  The  Meaning  of  Responsible  Government  188 

2.  The  Durham  Report  192 

3.  The  Union  of  the  Canadas  198 

4.  Achieving  Responsible  Government  in 

Canada  200 

5.  Achieving  Responsible  Government  in  the 

Maritimes  204 

Chapter  12,  THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,  1846-60 

1.  The  Canadian  Commercial  Revolution  207 

2.  The  Coming  of  Railways  212 

3.  The  Question  of  the  West  216 

4.  Sectionalism  and  the  Canadian  Union  221 

Chapter  13  THE  PATH  TO  CONFEDERATION,  1860^7 

1.  The  Movements  Within  230 

2.  The  Great  Coalition  in  Canada  233 

3.  The  Forces  Without  236 

4.  The  Achievement  of  Confederation  243 


Chapter  14  THE  NEW  DOMINION,  1867-78 

1.  The  Structure  of  Government  253 

2,  Rounding  Out  the  Dominion  258 

3.  Macdonald  Conservatism  and  a  Liberal 

Interlude  264 

4,  The  Life  of  the  Young  Dominion  270 

TENT, 1878-96 

1.  The  Brave  Days  of  the  National  Policy  276 

2.  Problems  of  Opening  the  Prairies  281 

3.  The  Rise  of  Sectional  Discontents  285 

4.  The  Fall  of  Macdonald  Conservatism  290 

5.  Macdonald  and  the  North  Atlantic  Triangle        296 



Chapter  16  LAURIER  AND  CANADA'S  CENTURY,  1896-1914 

1.  Immigration  and  Western  Settlement  301 

2.  The  Success  of  the  National  Policy  309 

3.  Nationalism  and  Imperialism  314 

4.  American  Problems  and  the  Naval  Question  320 

Chapter  17  THE  ACHIEVEMENT  OF  NATIONHOOD,  1914-31 

1.  Canada  and  the  First  World  War  327 

2.  Conscription  and  the  Racial  Crisis  333 

3.  Borden  and  the  Commonwealth  338 

4.  Mackenzie  King  and  Nationhood  343 

Chapter  18  CANADA  BETWEEN  Two  WORLD  WARS,  1919-39 

1.  Post- War  Growth  and  Renewed  Sectionalism  351 

2.  New  Currents  in  Politics  356 

3.  The  Federal  System  and  the  Depression  364 

4.  Canada  Enters  World  Affairs  370 

Chapter  19  THE  MATURING  NATION,  1939-50 

1.  Canada  and  the  Second  World  War  377 

2.  War  and  Post- War  PoHtics  384 

3.  Canada  in  a  Two-Power  World  390 

4.  Canada  Gains  a  New  Province  394 

5.  Patterns  in  Modern  Canadian  Life  401 

Chapter  20  CANADA  IN  THE  LATEST  AGE 

1.  The  Mid-Century  Boom  406 

2.  Political  Affairs  from  St  Laurent  to  Diefenbaker  410 

3.  External  Relations  in  the  Mid-Century  Years  415 

4.  Towards  1967  420 
Index  430 


1.  Carrier  at  Perce  Rock,  Gasp6 

2.  Champlain  and  Allies  attack  an  Iroquois  village 

3.  Martyrdom  of  the  Jesuits 

4.  Charter  of  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company 

5.  Frontenac  treats  with  the  Iroquois 

6.  Country  dance  of  the  Canadiens 

7.  The  taking  of  Quebec,  1759 

8.  Eighteenth-century  Halifax 

9.  Captain  Cook  on  Vancouver  Island 

10.  Loyalists  at  Saint  John,  New  Brunswick 

11.  Corduroy  road  in  early  Upper  Canada 

12.  Travel  by  dog  cariole  in  Hudson's  Bay  Territory 

1 3.  Governor  Simcoe  opens  Upper  Canada's  first 

14.  The  Battle  of  Chateauguay,  1813 

15.  Fur-trade  traffic  at  Fort  Edmonton 

1 6.  Opening  of  the  first  Welland  Canal 

17.  Toronto  in  the  eighteen-thirties 

18.  The  clash  at  St  Eustache — Rebellion  of  1837 

19.  Burning  of  the  Parliament  House,  Montreal 

20.  The  railway  enters  London,  Canada  West 

21.  Victoria,  Vancouver  Island,  in  1860 

22.  The  London  Conference  completes  the 
plan  of  union 

23.  Winnipeg  and  the  Red  River,  1873 

24.  North  West  Mounted  Police  at  Dufferin, 
Manitoba,  1874 

25.  Parliament  Hill,  Ottawa,  1880 

facing  p.  50 
facing  p.  51 

pp.  82 
and  83 

pp.  114 
and  115 

facing  p.  146 
facing  p.  147 

facing  p.  178 
facing  p.  179 

pp.  210 
and  211 

pp.  242 
and  243 


26.  Chief  Big  Bear  trading  at  Fort  Pitt 

27.  Volunteer  troops  in  the  North  West  Rebellion 

28.  First  C.P.R.  through  train  reaches  Port  Moody, 

29.  A  settler's  first  home  in  Manitoba 

30.  The  Laurier  smile — Sir  Wilfrid  campaigning 

31.  Scottish  immigrants  at  Quebec 

32.  Dutch  immigrants  at  Quebec 

33.  Saskatchewan  grain  elevators 

34.  Wealth  of  the  Shield — forests  and  waterpower 

35.  A  Recruiting  'Station*  in  the  War  of  1914-18 

36.  Yellowknife,  North  West  Territories 

37.  H.M.GS.  Swansea  on  convoy  duty,  1944 

38.  Canadians  under  fire  in  Germany,  1945 

39.  St  Lawrence  Seaway 

40.  Toronto  in  the  Nineteen-sixties 

41.  A  peaceful  stretch  of  Canadian  countryside 

facing  p.  274 

facing  p.  275 
facing  p.  338 

facing  p.  339 

pp.  370 
and  371 

facing  p.  410 
facing  p.  411 


For  permission  to  reproduce  copyright  illustrations  listed  above,  the 
publishers  express  their  thanks  to  the  following: 

Confederation  Life  Association  (nos.  i,  5,  9,  10,  13,  15,  16,  2.2,  23); 
Sigmund  Samuel  Gallery,  Royal  Ontario  Museum  (nos.  2,  4,  6,  8,  n,  17) ; 
Public  Archives  of  Canada  (nos.  3,  7,  14,  18,  26,  27, 29,  30,  31,  32);  John 
Ross  Robertson  Collection,  Toronto  Public  Library  (nos.  12,  19,  20,  25); 
Provincial  Archives  of  British  Columbia  (nos.  21,  28);  National  Film 
Board  of  Canada  (nos.  24,  33,  36,  39,  40);  Ontario  Department  of  High- 
ways (nos.  34,  41)3  Toronto  Star  Syndicate  (no.  35)  j  Royal  Canadian 
Navy  (no.  37);  Canadian  Army  Photographs  (no.  38). 



i.  The  Lands  of  Canada page  6-7 

a.  Eastern  Exploration  before  1760 35 

3.  The  Empires  before  the  Seven  Years'  War  ...         87 

4.  Political  Growth  of  the  B.N.A.  Colonies      .         .         .    126-7 

(i)  The  Northern  Colonies  in   1763 
(ii)  The  Northern  Colonies  and  the  Quebec  Act  1774 

(iii)  British  North  America  in  1791  . 

(iv)  British  North  America  in  182,0  .... 

5.  Western  Exploration  before  1821         .         .         .         •       140 

6.  The  Meaning  of  Responsible  Government  .         .         .189 

7.  British  North  America  before  Confederation        .         .   228-9 

8.  The  Development  of  the  West 283 

9.  Growth  of  the  Canadian  Union 306-7 

(i)  The  First  Seven  Provinces,  1873 

(ii)  New  Districts  Established,  1882 
(iii)  The  Nine  Provinces,  1905 
(iv)  The  Ten  Provinces,  1950 



I     The  Challenge  of  the  Land 

What  is  Canada?  It  is  a  vast  land-mass  over  three  thousand 
miles  wide,  larger  than  the  United  States  and  Alaska  put  together, 
a  little  bigger  than  Europe,  nearly  a  third  larger  than  the  island- 
continent  of  Australia.  It  extends  from  the  temperate  climate  of 
the  lower  Great  Lakes,  from  tobacco  fields,  peach  orchards  and 
grape  vineyards,  to  the  coldest  Arctic  regions,  where  the  granite- 
hard  subsoil  never  thaws.  To  east  and  west  this  massive  land  is 
flanked  as  well  by  great  islands  in  the  sea,  Newfoundland  and 
Vancouver  Island.  To  the  north  so  much  empty  space  remains 
that,  even  since  the  second  World  War,  aerial  surveys  could  find 
unknown  territories  at  the  top  of  Hudson  Bay  as  big  as  the  pro- 
vince of  Prince  Edward  Island  to  add  to  the  map  of  Canada. 
Sometimes  full  of  warm  colour  and  contrast,  sometimes  bleak, 
monotonous  and  unfriendly,  the  Canadian  land  stretches  in  all  its 
immensity  from  ocean  to  ocean  and  to  the  polar  ice-cap. 

There  is  no  virtue  in  mere  size,  however.  As  in  Canada's  case, 
it  can  raise  many  different  problems  in  a  country's  development. 
And  Canada  above  all  has  been  affected  by  its  geography:  there 
is  so  much  of  it.  Geography,  of  course,  does  much  to  influence 
the  history  of  any  nation.  But  this  is  particularly  true  of  a  land  as 
sprawling  and  spread  out  as  Canada,  composed  of  a  number  of 
different  geographic  regions,  often  with  natural  barriers  between 
them,  regions  which  in  Europe  might  have  contained  a  whole 
patchwork  of  separate  countries.  Thus  Canadian  history  largely 
records  a  struggle  to  build  a  nation  hi  the  face  of  stern  geographic 
difficulties.  That  struggle  still  goes  on. 

The  difficulties  arise  from  the  very  extent  and  variety  of  the 
Canadian  landscape :  the  range  on  range  of  far  western  mountains. 


the  rough  tracts  of  forest  and  bush,  the  Arctic  and  sub-Arctic 
wastes,  and  the  infertile  belt  of  ancient  rock  nearly  a  thousand 
miles  wide,  called  the  Canadian  Shield,  which  runs  through  the 
very  heart  of  Canada.  Barriers  such  as  the  mountains  and  the 
Shield  exact  a  heavy  price  in  scattering  the  population.  They 
make  for  sectional  divisions  and  high  transportation  charges.  They 
weaken  national  unity  and  retard  national  development.  Since, 
moreover,  so  much  of  Canada  lies  outside  the  limits  set  by  soil  and 
dimate  for  successful  fanning,  merely  numbering  the  thousands 
of  empty  or  almost  empty  square  miles  in  the  country  does  not 
necessarily  indicate  the  amount  of  room  left  for  growth.  It  may 
equally  point  out  the  size  of  a  problem  of  development  that  has 
been,  and  still  is,  slow  and  expensive  of  solution.  These  are  some 
of  the  costs  of  geography  that  have  had  to  be  borne  throughout 
the  course  of  Canadian  history. 

Yet  geography  has  offered  Canada  much  as  well.  This  giant 
land  has  held  rich  rewards  for  those  ready  to  meet  its  challenge. 
The  challenge  of  the  land  steadily  led  men  across  it,  from  east  to 
west.  In  the  east,  the  old  sunken  coastline  of  the  continent  formed 
great  fishing  banks  off  shore  that  first  beckoned  to  the  hardy 
fishermen  of  Europe  who  were  willing  to  dare  the  stormy  northern 
passage  across  the  Atlantic.  Beyond  the  Atlantic  fishing  shores 
the  gateway  of  the  St  Lawrence  gulf  and  river  stood  wide,  in- 
viting the  venturesome  to  thrust  boldly  into  the  middle  of  an  un- 
known continent.  Adventurers  who  pressed  up  the  St  Lawrence 
and  on  to  the  Great  Lakes  would  find  a  broad  water  highway 
stretching  nearly  half-way  across  Canada  and  by-passing  the  in- 
hospitable Shield.  From  tie  St  Lawrence  system  other  waterways, 
easily  reached,  led  to  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  to  the  Arctic,  even  to 
the  Pacific.  The  St  Lawrence  rewarded  daring  by  unlocking  the 
interior  of  North  America  to  those  who  sought  the  meaning  of 
the  great  river. 

West  of  the  Great  Lakes  the  great  plains  spread  out,  easy  to 
travel,  and  deep-layered  in  black  topsoil  that  promised  the  future 


golden  treasury  of  Canadian  wheat.  The  Shield  itself,  in  the  long 
run,  would  prove  a  treasure-house;  first  of  furs,  then  of  timber, 
and  finally  of  pulpwood,  minerals  and  water-power.  More 
mineral  riches  were  sealed  in  the  mountain  walls  west  of  the 
plains.  Beyond  these  mountains,  the  Pacific  coast  could  furnish 
stands  of  giant  timber  and  more  teeming  fisheries.  To-day  the 
sub-Arctic  'wastes'  are  the  latest  land  of  promise.  Their  mineral 
resources  are  only  now  being  tapped.  If  Canada  is  a  hard  country, 
it  has  indeed  been  a  rewarding  one  for  those  who  have  met  its 

2    Sectionalism  and  the  St  Lawrence 

Not  all  Canada  is  hard,  however,  and  the  bulk  of  its  people  do 
not  live  in  regions  that  are  difficult  to  develop.  In  the  southern 
parts  of  the  country  long  fertile  valleys  or  rich  garden  lands  have 
come  to  support  a  fairly  dense  population  within  a  comparatively 
small  area.  This  is  the  Canada  that  most  Canadians  themselves 
know:  a  land  of  dairying  and  mixed  farming,  of  orchards  and 
grain  fields.  This  too,  is  the  Canada  of  large  cities  and  factories 
that  have  made  the  nation  a  notable  industrial  power  in  the 
world.  As  a  result,  the  country  which  is  often  thought  of  abroad 
as  the  realm  of  frontiers  and  wide  horizons,  to-day  has  more  than 
half  its  population  in  cities  and  towns,  and  a  quarter  of  it  in  cities 
of  more  than  100,000  inhabitants. 

From  the  start  the  more  fertile  areas  in  southern  Canada, 
chiefly  along  the  valley  of  the  St  Lawrence  or  in  the  maritime 
regions  beside  the  Atlantic,  provided  the  bases  for  settlement. 
From  here  expansion  was  made  into  the  harder  northern  zones. 
By  this  process  Canada  grew.  But  because  the  areas  of  relatively 
easy  conditions  across  the  continent  were  cut  off  from  one  another 
by  geographic  barriers  and  more  difficult  country,  Canada  tended 
to  develop  in  separated  communities  or  sections. 

The  populated  parts  grew  like  separate  melons  on  one  long 
vine,  strung  out  across  the  continent  close  to  Canada's  southern 



Pacific  Mountains  or  Cordilleras 
%j  Great  Central  Plain 
|  |  |  [Canadian  or  Pre-Cambrian  Shield 

j  Maritime  or  Acadian  Region 

\  Hudson  Bay  Lowlands 

1  St  Lawrence  Valley  and  Lowlands 




boundary.  To-day,  although  costly  railways  and  roads  link  the 
heavily  populated  areas  together,  only  in  the  western  plains  is 
there  any  great  depth  of  continuous  settlement,  and  Canada  still 
falls  into  a  number  of  distinct  sections.  In  consequence,  much  of 
Canadian  history  has  been  the  story  of  individual  sections  and 
provinces.  Because  of  their  somewhat  different  interests  they 
have  not  combined  in  a  complete,  or  legislative,  union  in  founding 
a  nation,  but  have  adopted  the  looser  form  of  federal  union.  This 
federation,  moreover,  has  turned  out  to  be  more  loosely  knit  than 
that  of  the  United  States,  where  a  much  larger  and  more  continu- 
ous population,  not  so  hindered  by  geography,  has  fused  more 
fully  together. 

Furthermore,  because  the  lines  of  geographic  division  that 
mark  off  the  regions  of  Canada  tend  to  run  north  and  south  across 
the  continent,  and  because  so  much  of  the  Canadian  population 
lies  near  the  American  boundary  line,  Canadians  in  one  section 
have  often  had  easier  contacts  with  the  neighbouring  American 
region  to  the  south  than  with  the  other  parts  of  Canada  that  lie 
east  or  west.  Hence  the  'north-south  pull*,  heightening  sectional- 
ism, has  played  a  significant  role  throughout  Canadian  history. 
Nevertheless  there  have  also  been  powerful  forces  pulling  in  an 
east-to-west  direction  that  work  to  bind  the  parts  of  Canada  to- 
gether. Indeed,  they  brought  the  sections  to  form  one  country, 
almost  despite  geography,  and  certainly  in  the  face  of  its  costs. 

Some  of  these  forces  have  come  from  the  people  rather  than 
the  land;  they  have  been  historic  rather  than  geographic.  For 
example,  they  include  the  centuries-old  resistance  of  French 
Canada  to  the  American  pull  to  the  south,  and  the  traditional 
desire  of  later  English-speaking  settlers  to  remain  linked  with 
Britain  and  independent  of  the  United  States.  But  perhaps  the 
most  powerful  force  that  has  helped  to  bind  Canada  from  east  to 
west  as  one  country  is  geographic  in  origin.  It  is  the  influence  of 
the  St  Lawrence  system  of  rivers  and  lakes,  and  the  east-west 
trade  that  grew  up  along  that  water  route.  The  Canadian  nation 



itself ,  in  fact,  developed  along  the  St  Lawrence  highway,  as  trade 
and  settlement  advanced  from  east  to  west  by  that  path,  from  the 
lands  about  the  gulf  to  posts  up  the  river  and  on  the  Great  Lakes. 

First  came  the  fur-trader's  canoe.  Short  'carries'  or  portages 
overland  from  the  St  Lawrence  headwaters  brought  the  fur 
trader  to  western  rivers,  and  finally  to  the  Pacific.  That  the 
breadth  of  the  North  American  continent  was  first  crossed  in  its 
northern,  Canadian  half  indicates  the  early  usefulness  of  the  St 
Lawrence  and  its  connections  as  a  transcontinental  route.  Next 
came  the  canal  boat,  to  bring  the  increasing  grain  crops  of  the 
interior  to  the  Atlantic  for  shipment  to  European  markets.  Then 
the  railway  stretched  through  the  St  Lawrence  valley,  and  reached 
out  east  and  west  to  two  oceans,  tying  all  Canada  together  with 
gleaming  steel. 

All  through  these  stages  the  trading  and  financial  interests 
which  developed  with  the  St  Lawrence  system  had  been  competing 
with  the  other  trade  routes  spanning  the  continent  that  led  to 
American  ports.  The  Canadian  interests  strove  to  build  their  half 
of  North  America  into  one  secure  trading  empire  from  sea  to  sea, 
to  make  Canada  an  economic  unit  apart  from  the  United  States. 
The  influence  of  the  great  east-west  Canadian  trade  route,  there- 
fore, throughout  history  has  worked  against  the  north-south  pulls 
in  each  region  of  Canada.  It  has  supplied  a  core  about  which  the 
modern  nation  could  grow,  despite  the  cross-currents  of  section- 
alism. This  much,  again,  geography  has  done  for  Canada. 

3    Influences  by  Land  and  Sea 

Geography  has  done  still  more  by  land  and  sea;  to  link 
Canada's  destinies  by  land,  with  the  United  States;  by  sea,  with 
Britain.  The  easy  access  to  Canada  by  land  from  what  is  now  the 
United  States  has  been  of  great  significance  in  Canadian  history. 
Since  the  main  geographic  barriers  in  North  America  run  north 
and  south  they  do  not  block  the  way  into  the  various  parts  of 
Canada  from  the  United  States,  and  the  boundary  between  the 



two  countries  is  on  the  whole  simply  a  man-made  line.  Condi- 
tions of  every-day  life  may  be  much  the  same  on  either  side  of  the 
border.  The  common  problems  that  are  met  in  living  in  the  same 
kinds  of  land,  the  similar  outlooks  thereby  produced,  and  the 
constant  movement  of  trade  and  people  to  and  fro  across  the 
border  result  in  Canada  being  readily  open  to  American  influences, 
and  Canadian  history  being  closely  tied  to  that  of  the  United 

The  stronger  nation  tends  usually  to  influence  the  weaker.  Ana 
geography  has  decreed  that  the  United  States  should  be  much 
stronger.  Geography,  that  is,  has  divided  and  scattered  the  Cana- 
dian people,  made  the  cost  of  developing  their  country  higher 
than  that  of  the  American  republic  and  given  them  far  fewer  men 
and  less  money  to  work  with.  It  has  declared  that  Canada  should 
be  rich,  but  not  endowed  with  the  variety  of  the  United  States; 
and  it  has  sharply  restricted  the  northern  nation  in  regard  to  soil 
and  climate.  Geography  has  placed  the  barren  Shield  across  the 
heart  of  Canada  and  the  populous  Mississipi  valley,  containing 
some  of  the  finest  land  in  the  world,  in  the  midst  of  the  United 
States.  The  result,  indeed,  may  be  read  in  the  populations  of  the 
two  nations  to-day:  some  eighteen  million  people  as  compared 
with  over  a  hundred  and  eighty-four  million.  Canada's  achieve- 
ments may  be  great,  especially  for  eighteen  million  people,  but  the 
mighty  American  neighbour  still  towers  above  the  northern  nation. 

No  other  Commonwealth  country  has  had  to  grow  up  beside  a 
tremendously  powerful  foreign  state.  This  is  a  special  problem 
for  Canadian  history.  It  has  meant  in  Canada  both  a  tendency  to 
copy  American  ways  and  a  suspicion  of  American  influence  and 
power  to  dominate.  It  has  meant  in  the  more  remote  past  two 
wars  to  repel  American  conquest  and  many  periods  of  alarm. 
More  recently,  it  has  also  come  to  mean  a  striking  record  of  close 
co-operation  between  nations,  a  long  era  of  peace  and  an  un- 
fortified American-Canadian  border.  But  in  general,  the  presence 
of  the  United  States  has  involved  Canada  in  a  struggle  for  survival 



as  an  independent  nation  in  North  America — a  struggle,  first, 
against  superior  force  and  later  against  the  process  of  gradual  and 
peaceful  absorption. 

Yet  a  powerful  counter-weight  against  the  American  influence 
by  land  has  been  supplied  in  Canada's  past  through  the  British 
tie  by  sea,  which  is  no  less  grounded  in  geography.  The  modern 
Canadian  nation,  of  course,  has  grown  out  of  former  colonies  of 
the  great  British  oceanic  empire.  In  Britain  lay  a  source  of  pro- 
tection against  the  power  of  the  rising  young  republic  in  the 
dangerous  days.  From  Britain  came  ideas  and  influences  to 
modify  those  received  from  the  United  States.  And  from  Britain 
as  well  there  flowed  the  main  stream  of  population  that  made  the 
former  French  possession  of  Canada  a  British  colony  in  content 
as  well  as  name. 

The  Canadians  of  to-day  are  a  little  less  than  half  of  British 
stock,  about  thirty  per  cent  French,  and  the  rest  very  largely  of 
other  European  origins,  who  have  generally  joined  the  English- 
speaking  majority.  The  British  immigrant  group,  however,  loomed 
especially  large  in  the  nineteenth  century  in  Canada.  To  a  great 
extent  it  was  because  of  their  strong  traditions  that  Canada  ad- 
vanced to  self-government  without  leaving  the  empire,  and  thus 
to-day  remains  a  partner  in  the  Commonwealth.  Canadian 
history  has  therefore  been  deeply  affected  by  British  influences. 
They  did  much  to  shape  the  modern  nation  and  to  keep  it  inde- 
pendent in  North  America. 

All  this  again  goes  back  to  geography,  to  the  sea.  Canadian 
history  began  by  sea  as  Europe  expanded  over  the  oceans.  First 
came  French  overseas  enterprise.  The  building  of  New  France 
left  an  enduring  element  in  the  life  of  Canada,  making  the  present 
nation  a  partnership  of  two  peoples,  languages  and  cultures.  But 
British  sea  power  wrested  Canada  from  French  control  and  kept 
it  in  British  hands.  The  new  British  colony  grew  and  flourished 
within  the  sea-trading  empire.  It  was  easily  accessible  by  the 
oceans  and  could  be  effectively  tied  to  the  imperial  islands  of 



Great  Britain.  To-day  the  trade  with  Britain  still  remains  im- 
portant to  Canada's  well-being.  Geography,  in  sum,  has  set  the 
stage  for  Canada  by  sea  no  less  than  it  has  fixed  conditions  by 
land  for  Canadian  development. 

The  great  St  Lawrence  system,  key  to  the  whole  course  of 
Canadian  history,  was  linked  by  the  sea  to  Britain.  If  one  end  of 
that  long  trade  route  lay  deep  in  the  continent,  the  other  lay  in 
London.  It  formed  a  broad  funnel  through  which  trade,  people 
and  ideas  could  pour  from  Britain  into  the  North  American  heart 
of  Canada.  Then,  too,  the  Atlantic  regions  of  Canada,  to  be 
known  as  the  Maritime  provinces,  faced  out  to  sea  and  turned 
their  backs  on  the  continent;  Newfoundland  was  virtually  a. 
British  fishing  ship  anchored  off  America,  and  for  long  years  was 
actually  governed  by  British  naval  officers. 

The  Pacific  coast  of  Canada  was  first  opened  by  sea.  The  long 
fingers  of  British  sea  power  stretched  to  Vancouver  Island  from 
around  Cape  Horn  and  across  the  Pacific.  Even  the  interior 
western  plains  were  early  reached  by  sea,  for  the  English  Hudson's 
Bay  Company  developed  the  cold  northern  gateway  to  Canada  as 
the  way  to  the  western  fur  trade.  The  sea  touches  all  the  regions  of 
Canada  and  sounds  through  all  its  history. 

4    The  Regions  of  Canada 

Despite  the  common  influences  which  reached  Canada  by  sea, 
it  remained  a  land  of  distinct  regions,  each  with  its  own  history. 
They  formed  the  moulds  in  which  Canada  gradually  took  shape, 
as  successive  generations  flowed  into  each  one  in  the  course  of 
moving  across  the  continent.  From  east  to  west  there  are  five 
main  geographic  divisions  in  Canada.  North  of  them,  in  addition, 
lie  the  sub- Arctic  and  Arctic  areas,  consisting  of  the  Hudson  Bay 
Lowlands,  bush  country  and  tundra  about  the  vast  Bay,  and  the 
Arctic  Archipelago,  bleak  rocky  hills  and  islands  extending  to  the 
polar  seas. 

The  easternmost  of  the  five  main  divisions  is  the  Acadian  or 



Maritime  region.  It  contains  the  Atlantic  provinces  of  Nova 
Scotia,  New  Brunswick  and  Prince  Edward  Island,  and  the  new- 
est Canadian  province,  though  oldest  British  colony,  the  massive 
island  of  Newfoundland,  which  joined  the  Canadian  union  in 
1949.  The  Acadian  region  is  a  northward  extension  of  hilly  New 
England:  an  area  backed  by  the  long  line  of  the  Appalachian 
mountains  that  parallel  the  whole  coast  and  formed  the  first  main 
geographic  barrier  to  the  settlement  of  North  America.  The 
rounded  Appalachians,  rising  only  to  4,000  feet  in  Canada,  are 
low  mountains  by  the  standard  of  the  western  Rockies,  but  their 
forested  wilds  long  presented  a  serious  obstacle,  and  still  restrict 
easy  passage  by  road  or  rail  between  the  Maritime  provinces  and 
the  neighbouring  province  of  Quebec. 

The  Atlantic  shores  of  the  Acadian  region  are  deeply  indented 
with  coves  and  buttressed  with  rugged  headlands.  This  is  parti- 
cularly true  of  Newfoundland.  But  the  many  excellent  harbours 
thus  provided  and  the  nearby  shallows  or  banks  made  seafaring 
and  fishing  flourish  in  this  region  from  the  start.  There  are  also 
sheltered  green  valleys  in  Nova  Scotia  and  New  Brunswick,  and 
Prince  Edward  Island  is  a  quiet  garden  in  the  Gulf  of  St  Lawrence. 
Farming,  therefore,  has  also  been  important  in  the  Acadian 
region;  and  lumbering  too,  particularly  where  the  river  valleys 
rise  against  the  Appalachian  ridges  in  New  Brunswick. 

On  the  other  side  of  the  Appalachians  the  broad  St  Lawrence 
river  begins  its  thousand-mile  passage  into  Canada  from  the 
Gulf  to  the  Great  Lakes.  At  first  the  Appalachians  to  the  south 
and  the  rim  of  the  Shield  on  its  northern  bank  hem  in  the  St 
Lawrence.  But  so  wide  is  the  stream  in  its  lower  course  that  each 
high  wall  above  its  margin  appears  only  as  a  faint  blue  line  when 
seen  from  the  opposite  shore.  By  the  time  the  river  reaches  the 
city  of  Quebec,  however,  the  walls  have  moved  back,  and  now 
there  begins  a  fertile  valley,  nine  hundred  miles  in  length,  that 
gradually  broadens  into  a  gently  rolling,  park-like  plain.  This  St 
Lawrence  valley,  that  ends  amid  the  Lower  Lakes,  has  always 



been  the  heart  of  settled  Canada.  To-day  it  contains  over  sixty 
per  cent  of  the  population.  Its  farmland  is  rich;  so  are  its  indus- 
trial resources.  The  two  greatest  Canadian  cities,  Montreal  and 
Toronto,  and  many  others,  are  set  in  the  long  St  Lawrence  plain. 

The  St  Lawrence  valley  region  includes  the  southern  portion 
of  Quebec  province  and  the  broad  triangle  of  southern  Ontario, 
that  lies  between  the  inland  seas  known  as  the  Great  Lakes.  If 
the  valley,  however,  is  geographically  and  economically  one  unit, 
historically  it  has  been  two,  for  the  French  Canadians  who  settled 
in  Lower  Canada,  now  Quebec,  and  the  English  Canadians  who 
settled  chiefly  in  Upper  Canada,  now  the  province  of  Ontario, 
divided  it  into  two  strong  sections. 

Yet  the  larger  portions  of  Ontario  and  Quebec,  their  northern 
areas,  fall  within  the  region  of  the  Canadian  Shield,  the  most 
prominent  geographic  feature  in  the  whole  of  Canada.  This  huge 
mass  of  rock  is  a  plateau  worn  down  by  prehistoric  glaciers  from 
a  range  of  ancient  mountains.  It  sweeps  in  a  mighty  arc  about 
Hudson  Bay,  extending  from  the  Atlantic  edge  of  Quebec  and 
Labrador  across  northern  Ontario  and  northern  Manitoba  into 
the  North  West  Territories,  until  it  touches  the  Arctic  ocean. 
The  southern  edge  of  the  Shield  thrusts  down  on  the  fertile  St 
Lawrence  valley,  and  places  a  thousand  miles  of  rolling  granite 
hills,  bush,  and  muskeg  swamp  between  the  farms  of  southern 
Ontario  and  those  of  the  western  plains. 

It  would  be  wrong,  however,  to  think  of  the  Shield  as  a  fear- 
some bad  lands  of  rock,  scrub  and  muskeg.  Some  of  it  is;  but 
much  as  well  is  evergreen  forest,  one  of  Canada's  richest  re- 
sources. Large  fertile  pockets  of  soil  are  also  found  within  it,  and 
the  whole  Shield  is  pitted  and  scored  by  countless  lakes  and 
streams.  First  formed  by  the  melting  glaciers,  they  provided  a 
network  of  waterways  for  easy  travel  by  canoe.  The  same  eroding 
glaciers,  moreover,  that  ground  off  the  good  top  soil,  made  almost 
incalculable  mineral  wealth  available  for  ehard  rock'  mining. 

To-day  busy  cities  may  be  found  deep  in  the  silence  of  the 



Shield,  developing  the  mines  and  the  hydro-electric  power  to  be 
obtained  from  its  streams,  linked  by  rail  and  aeroplane  with  the 
rest  of  Canada.  Besides  being  a  vast  source  of  wealth  for  Ontario 
and  Quebec,  the  Shield  is  now  a  sporting  and  vacation  paradise. 
It  seems  far  from  inhospitable  on  a  summer  day,  the  blue  lakes 
sparkling,  the  keen  air  spiced  with  the  scent  of  evergreens.  Still 
the  Shield  has  long  been  a  barrier.  A  trunk  highway  across  it  was 
only  opened  in  1943,  although  three  transcontinental  railway  lines 
run  through  it  as  well. 

Beyond  the  lands  of  central  Canada,  beyond  the  St  Lawrence 
valley  and  the  Shield,  the  true  West  begins.  Across  the  prairie 
provinces  of  Manitoba,  Saskatchewan  and  Alberta  the  richly 
fertile  plains  stretch  out  to  the  Rocky  Mountains,  and  run  north- 
west to  reach  the  Arctic.  Not  all  this  region  is  flat,  treeless 
prairie.  It  rises  gradually  towards  the  foothills  of  the  Rockies  in 
western  Alberta,  park-lands  run  through  central  Saskatchewan, 
and  Manitoba  has  large  lakes  and,  of  course,  its  share  of  the 
Shield.  Not  all  the  plains  region  is  good  farming  country.  There 
is  a  dry  belt  in  the  south  where  Alberta  meets  Saskatchewan, 
which  is  better  suited  for  grazing  land.  Cattle-ranching  is  impor- 
tant here,  and  in  the  Alberta  foothills. 

But,  in  general,  despite  more  recent  developments  in  industry, 
northern  lumbering  and  mining — and,  above  all,  in  Alberta  oil — 
the  region  of  the  plains  remains  the  home  of  one  great  enterprise; 
grain-producing  for  the  markets  of  the  world.  The  farms  to-day 
are  measured  in  square  miles  and  involve  much  mechanized 
farming  and  complicated  financing.  Mile  on  mile  their  waving 
wheat  fields  sweep  to  the  flat  horizon,  broken  only  by  the  lonely 
shafts  of  grain  elevators  that  store  up  the  very  destiny  of  the 
prairie  West. 

The  westernmost,  or  Cordilleran  region  of  Canada,  between 
the  great  plains  and  the  Pacific,  contains  some  of  the  highest 
mountains  in  North  America.  It  really  consists  of  four  mountain 
chains  rising  parallel  to  one  another.  They  run  north  out  of  the 



United  States  through  the  Pacific  province  of  British  Columbia, 
and  on  to  the  Yukon  territory.  They  represent  an  extension  of 
the  American  western  ranges,  as  the  Canadian  plains  represent 
the  northward  extension  of  the  interior  plain  of  North  America. 
This  sea  of  mountains  four  hundred  miles  wide  has  its  largest 
range,  the  Rockies,  on  the  side  next  to  the  plains,  where  they  rear 
a  tremendous  snow-capped  wall  above  the  flatlands.  Good  passes 
from  east  to  west  through  the  Rockies  and  other  ranges  are  few, 
and  were  hard  to  find  for  railways  or  roads.  Nor  were  the  cold 
mountain  rivers,  rushing  through  deep,  twisted  canyons,  easy  for 
the  early  fur  traders  to  navigate. 

Between  the  ranges,  however,  there  are  often  long,  peaceful 
valleys  running  north  and  south,  such  as  the  lovely  Okanagan, 
where  placid  lakes  reflect  the  blossoming  apple  orchards  and  the 
distant  silvery  line  of  peaks.  Where  the  valleys  slope  up  to  the 
mountains  there  may  be  good  ranching  land,  or  great  mineral 
deposits  that  have  produced  some  of  the  world's  largest  mining 
developments  in  the  thriving  province  of  British  Columbia.  There 
is  no  coastal  plain  beyond  the  ranges  on  the  Pacific  shore,  but  the 
deltas  of  the  mountain  rivers,  especially  the  Fraser,  widen  out  to 
afford  some  room  for  towns  and  farms.  Vancouver,  Canada's 
third  city,  lies  here,  a  sea  port  growing  steadily  with  the  expanding 
Canadian  Pacific  trade;  while  on  beautiful  Vancouver  Island, 
really  part  of  a  half  submerged  mountain  range,  flower-filled 
Victoria  basks  in  the  mild  Pacific  climate. 

These  then  are  the  main  regions  of  the  Canadian  land,  each 
providing  a  distinct  section  within  which  the  Canadian  people 
took  form,  yet  all  of  them  bound  together  by  forces  of  geography 
and  history.  And,  in  a  sense,  the  Canadian  people  took  shape  in 
history  in  response  to  the  challenge  of  their  mighty  land:  the 
challenge  of  the  rugged  eastern  coastline,  the  wide  water  gates  of 
the  St  Lawrence,  and  Hudson  Bay,  the  dark,  wintry  forests  and 
endless,  sunlit  prairie — the  grim  fortress  of  the  Rockies,  the  roar- 
ing mountain  torrents,  and  the  icy  stillness  of  the  Arctic  night. 




I     The  Indians  and  the  Land 

Before  Europeans  came  to  Canada,  prehistoric  man  had 
worked  out  his  own  way  of  life  in  the  American  continent.  The 
Indian  was  the  Canadian  prehistoric  man.  The  description  does 
not  seem  surprising  when  one  realizes  that  it  refers  only  to  people 
who  lived  prior  to  the  age  of  recorded  history.  Thus,  since  the 
written  records  only  begin  for  eastern  Canada  with  the  sixteenth 
and  seventeenth  centuries,  AJX,  the  prehistoric  period  extended 
this  far,  and  for  much  of  western  Canada  until  the  eighteenth 
century.  Indeed,  some  of  the  Eskimo  tribes  of  the  far  north 
belonged  to  prehistory  until  the  last  century  brought  white  men 
into  contact  with  them. 

But  the  Eskimos  and  Canadian  Indians  had  their  own  learning 
and  skills  even  if  they  did  not  have  the  art  of  writing.  To-day  the 
life  of  their  descendants  has  been  transformed,  in  greater  or 
lesser  degree,  by  the  impact  of  the  white  man's  world,  but  the 
original  knowledge  and  abilities  of  these  native  races  was  all- 
important  both  in  enabling  them  to  exist  in  North  America  and 
in  teaching  European  peoples  ways  to  meet  the  challenge  of  the 
continent.  The  Eskimos,  who  represent  a  particular  branch  of  the 
Indian  people  adapted  to  Arctic  life,  were  of  relatively  minor 
importance  in  the  story  of  Canada  since  they  occupied  only  the 
cold  northern  fringes  of  the  continent.  The  other  Indian  groups 
were  of  much  greater  significance. 

It  is  held  that  the  Indian  race  is  related  to  the  Mongol  peoples 
of  Asia,  and  that  its  ancestors  must  have  crossed  to  the  American 
continent  by  way  of  Alaska  in  the  dim  recesses  of  time.  The  tip 
of  Alaska,  the  north-western  corner  of  the  continent,  is  only  fifty 
miles  from  Siberia.  The  opposite  shore  can  even  be  seen  on  a 



clear  day.  This  is  a  gap  narrow  enough  for  a  primitive  people  to 
have  bridged  in  crude  boats.  Untold  centuries  later,  such  a  people 
could  have  spread  by  slow  wandering  all  over  America,  to  form 
the  Indian  groups  that  the  discoverers  from  Europe  found. 

The  Indians  were  never  very  numerous — supposedly  only 
about  220,000  in  all  Canada  at  the  time  when  Europeans  first 
arrived.  This  sparse  population  was  fairly  well  fixed  in  size  by 
the  Indians'  inability  to  feed  many  more  mouths,  despite  the 
vastness  of  the  continent.  For  the  northern  Indian,  in  particular, 
was  primarily  a  hunter,  and  he  needed  wide,  empty  areas  to  range 
in  search  of  food.  Though  some  Indian  groups  did  plant  crops 
and  scratched  a  living  from  the  soil,  the  primitive  Canadian 
Indian  depended  largely  on  hunting  and  fishing.  Hence  pre- 
historic Canada  generally  remained  a  wilderness  hunting-ground, 
a  silent  world  of  forests  in  the  east  and  far  west  and  of  untilled 
grasslands  on  the  interior  plains. 

The  Indians  of  Canada  were  divided  into  four  main  groups, 
apart  from  the  Eskimos  in  the  Arctic.  Each  contained  many 
tribes.  The  groups  were  distinguished,  basically,  by  the  regions 
they  lived  in  and  the  ways  of  life  they  had  adopted  to  meet  their 
surroundings.  There  were  the  Indians  of  the  Pacific  coast  and 
mountains,  the  Plains  Indians,  those  of  the  St  Lawrence  valley, 
and,  finally,  a  broad  group  that  may  be  called  the  Indians  of  the 
North-east  Woodlands.  In  other  words,  while  some  of  the  divi- 
sions of  the  native  people  conformed  to  those  of  the  land,  in  the 
east  of  Canada  the  same  sort  of  Indian  roamed  the  woods  of  the 
Shield  and  those  of  the  Maritime  region,  from  the  Atlantic  to  the 
tree-line  in  the  Arctic  north. 

The  northernmost  tribes  of  these  woodland  Indians,  west  of 
Hudson  Bay,  spoke  the  Athabaskan  tongue,  but  the  main  group 
is  termed  Algonquian,  from  the  name  given  to  their  language. 
They  included  ALgonquins  proper  of  the  Ottawa-St  Lawrence 
region,  Micmacs  of  the  Maritimes,  Montagnais  of  Quebec  and 
Cree  and  Ojibwa  of  northern  Ontario  and  Manitoba.  They  were 



above  all  nomad  hunters,  moving  over  their  tribal  hunting  grounds 
in  search  of  the  animals  that  supplied  them  with  both  food  and 
clothing,  though  fish  was  also  an  important  article  of  diet.  They 
lived  in  birch-bark  wigwams,  and  used  this  paper-like  but  strong 
bark  to  cover  their  light  canoes.  In  these  they  made  long  journeys 
with  remarkable  ease. 

In  winter  they  moved  almost  as  easily  over  snow-covered  land 
and  frozen  stream  by  means  of  the  snow-shoe,  while  fur  robes 
replaced  their  deerskin  summer  garments.  As  well  as  using  the 
bow  and  arrow  these  able  hunters  made  skilful  traps.  But  their 
weapons  and  implements  were  contrived  of  wood,  bone  and  stone, 
because,  like  all  the  other  Canadian  Indians,  these  prehistoric 
people  were  in  the  stone  age  until  the  white  men  introduced  metal 
articles  among  them. 

The  Algonquins  moved  into  parts  of  the  St  Lawrence  valley 
from  time  to  time,  but  in  general  the  fertile  land  of  this  region 
was  held  by  the  next  Indian  group,  the  Iroquois,  who  fought 
frequently  with  the  Algonquins.  The  Iroquois  language-family 
was  centered  in  the  country  about  the  lower  Great  Lakes,  and 
included  the  Hurons  of  central  Ontario  and  the  League  of  the 
Five  Nations  (later  six)  who  lived  south  of  Lake  Ontario  in 
what  is  now  the  United  States.  The  Five  Nations,  as  the  most 
powerful  Iroquois  group,  have  acquired  in  history  the  name 
'Iroquois'  for  themselves,  but  it  is  well  to  remember  that  they 
were  really  tribes  of  the  same  stock  as  the  Huron  people  with 
whom  they  waged  relentless  war. 

The  Iroquois  group,  unlike  the  Algonquins,  were  fanners.  They 
hunted  and  fished  as  well,  but  their  dependence  on  fields  and 
crops  made  theirs  a  settled  life.  They  lived  in  stockaded  villages, 
around  which  lay  the  fields  they  had  cleared  from  the  forests. 
Within  the  stockade  were  a  number  of  large  lodges,  wood-framed, 
bark-covered,  with  arched  roofs.  Each  housed  several  families  of 
Iroquois.  This  was  a  much  more  social  and  complex  existence 
than  that  of  the  wandering  Algonquin  families,  dwelling  in 



scattered  wigwams.  The  Iroquois  grew  tobacco,  squash  and 
pumpkins,  but  their  chief  crop  was  Indian  corn  or  maize.  Life 
itself  could  depend  on  the  corn  crop  being  safely  harvested,  or 
the  storehouses  being  saved  from  burning  in  an  enemy  raid. 

The  Iroquois  made  pottery  and  did  beadwork,  engaged  in  trade 
with  other  tribes  and  used  worked  bead  belts,  or  wampum,  as 
money.  Their  canoes  were  elm-bark  covered  or  heavy  dug-outs, 
hollowed-out  tree-trunks,  and  not  the  more  efficient  Algonquin 
birch-bark  type.  But  in  government  organization  and  military 
power  they  surpassed  all  the  Canadian  Indians.  The  secret  lay  in 
their  settled  life,  which  made  the  tribe  a  much  tighter,  stronger 
unit,  and  in  the  co-operation  between  tribes  in  the  case  of  the 
Five  Nations.  This  was  a  primitive  international  body,  with  a 
central  council  containing  representatives  from  each  elected  tribal 
council.  The  League's  ability  to  keep  the  Iroquois  a  unit,  and  to 
wield  their  power  in  war,  is  shown  by  the  persistence  of  the  Five 
Nations,  as  a  power  to  be  feared,  long  after  the  coming  of  the 
white  man. 

The  other  two  Indian  groups  had  much  later  contacts  with  the 
white  man  than  the  Algonquins  and  Iroquois,  and  taught  him 
less.  The  Plains  Indians  were  wandering  hunters  like  the  Algon- 
quins; but  their  chief  quarry  was  not  the  beaver,  deer,  and  other 
forest  animals  but  the  great  buffalo  herds  of  the  grasslands;  and 
their  chief  means  of  transport  was  not  the  canoe  but  the  horse. 
The  horse,  in  reality,  was  not  native  to  America  but  had  been 
introduced  by  the  early  Spanish  explorers  far  to  the  south  in 
Mexico.  By  the  time  the  prehistoric  period  ended  for  the 
Canadian  west,  however,  the  Indians  of  the  plains  had  long  since 
captured  and  tamed  wild  horses  from  the  herds  that  had  spread 
up  the  continental  interior.  Earlier,  the  Plains  Indians  had  hunted 
the  buffalo  on  foot,  and  used  dogs  to  carry  the  tribal  baggage. 
Dogs,  of  course,  were  also  used  by  Indians  and  Eskimos  to  draw 
sleighs  in  the  frozen  north. 

The  plains  Indians  included  the  Sioux,  the  Blackfeet,  the 



Plains-Cree  and  the  Plains-Ojibwa.  They  lived  in  tepis  similar  to 
Algonquin  wigwams,  but  skin-covered.  Great  men  among  them 
wore  the  huge  feathered  headdresses  often  regarded  as  typical  of 
all  American  Indians.  The  eastern  tribes  wore  only  a  few  feathers. 
The  only  crop  cultivated  by  these  people,  who  lived  on  some  of 
the  world's  richest  soil,  was  tobacco  for  smoking  on  occasions  of 
ceremony.  Buffalo  meat,  fresh  or  smoked  as  pemmican,  supplied 
their  chief  article  of  diet,  buffalo  skins  their  clothes  and  robes. 

The  Pacific  Indians,  among  them  the  Haida,  Nootka  and  Salish 
tribes,  made  good  use  of  the  plentiful  supply  offish  in  mountain 
streams  and  coastal  waters,  and  also  of  the  long,  straight  timber  of 
the  Pacific  region.  They  were  capable  fishermen,  and  though  they 
gathered  roots  and  berries,  chiefly  lived  on  fish,  especially  the 
Pacific  salmon.  Their  canoes  were  long  dug-outs.  They  lived  in 
villages  in  great  box-like  houses  built  of  evenly  split  planks,  split 
by  stone  and  wooden  tools.  These  were  the  Indians  who  raised 
the  lofty  totem  poles*  also  often  attributed  to  all  Indians,  which 
were  carved  from  the  giant  trees  of  the  area.  Yet  actually  this 
practice  did  not  begin  till  the  prehistoric  era  was  over  in  the 
nineteenth  century.  The  life  of  the  Pacific  Indians  was  quite  as 
settled  and  social  as  that  of  the  Iroquois.  Their  village  units  were 
as  closely  knit,  although,  far  from  electing  a  tribal  government, 
their  hereditary  chiefs  had  much  power,  while  men  of  wealth  also 
had  great  influence  among  them. 

2    The  Red  Man  and  the  White 

What  could  Indian  society  teach  the  white  man?  The  use  of  the 
canoe  and  the  waterways  to  surmount  the  trackless  distances  of 
the  continent;  the  forest  craft  to  keep  him  sheltered,  properly 
clothed  and  fed  in  the  wilderness;  the  value  of  Indian  corn  as  a 
quick-growing,  large-yielding  crop,  once  settlement  had  begun. 
It  could  show  him  too  the  skills  of  trapping,  the  art  of  the  snow- 
shoe  for  winter  travelling,  and  how  to  make  long  journeys  on  a 
basic  diet  of  pemmican  in  the  western,  buffalo  country.  In  short, 



the  Indians  could  teach  the  Europeans  how  to  survive  in  the 
empty  continent;  and  how,  indeed,  to  conquer  it.  For  thanks  to 
their  superior  civilization  and  tools,  the  white  men  could  go  for- 
ward to  master  and  transform  the  raw  land,  as  the  Indians  had 
never  really  done. 

At  the  same  time,, the  coming  of  Europeans  sooner  or  later 
spelled  death  to  Indian  society.  It  was  too  weak  to  prevent  the 
spread  of  the  invader  across  the  continent,  although  from  time  to 
time  in  history  the  Indians  made  attempts  to  block  his  further 
advance.  Nor  was  it  simply  the  white  man's  iron  and  guns  that 
won  the  day  for  him.  His  diseases  did  more.  Whole  Indian  tribes 
not  used  to  European  illnesses  were  ravaged  by  epidemics.  Even 
measles  became  a  killer  of  multitudes.  The  weakened  remnants 
were  further  ravaged  by  the  intruder's  'fire  water',  since  the 
Indians  had  not  known  the  use  of  alcohol  before. 

Tribal  wars,  more  destructive  with  the  introduction  of  guns, 
further  reduced  the  Indians.  Yet  the  chief  weakness  really  lay  in 
Indian  society  itself.  Quite  apart  from  good  or  evil  designs  of  the 
Europeans,  the  weaker,  more  primitive  Indian  tribal  life  simply 
collapsed  and  fell  apart  as  it  met  a  more  advanced  civilization.  As 
long  as  the  Europeans  in  Canada  were  chiefly  concerned  with  fur 
trading,  so  that  the  forests  were  not  harmed,  Indian  life  might 
seem  to  be  unthreatened.  But  actually  its  collapse  had  already 
begun.  Seeking  the  white  men's  superior  weapons  and  goods, 
whether  guns,  iron  traps,  or  kettles,  Indians  became  dependent 
upon  them.  They  forgot  their  old  skills,  and  had  to  engage  among 
themselves  in  a  grim  struggle  for  these  goods,  or  die.  Tribes  that 
had  guns,  steel  knives,  and  iron  traps  could  drive  out  those  that 
had  not  and  gain  the  furs  which  would  bring  them  more  of  the 
all-important  trade  goods.  A  bitter  fight  to  survive  developed, 
increasing  in  extent  as  the  links  between  white  and  red  men 
spread  westward. 

Tribal  organization  and  customs  decayed.  The  tide  of  settle- 
ment spread  over  their  remnants ;  until  in  the  end  some  of  the  old 



Indian  hunting  life  was  only  preserved  in  the  fur-trapping  far 
North,  or  on  the  reservations,  the  tracts  of  land  guaranteed  at  last 
to  the  remaining  tribes  by  white  governments.  And  even  here,  on 
eastern  reservations,  the  Indians  have  largely  adopted  the  same 
ways  as  neighbouring  white  farmers.  Thus^  for  better  or  worse 
(for  remember  that  the  'noble  red  man'  had  often  lived  a  life  of 
squalor  and  near-starvation)  the  Indian  world  gradually  but  in- 
evitably collapsed,  as  Europeans  entered  the  Canadian  scene. 

3    The  Europeans  Enter 

Why  did  they  come?  Why  should  nations  of  western  Europe 
suddenly  interest  themselves,  in  the  sixteenth  century,  in  a  New 
World,  and  in  the  Canadian  portion  of  it?  Before  that  time  there 
had  been  visitors  from  Europe  to  the  Canadian  shores  but  they 
had  not  led  to  the  opening  of  the  continent  to  white  men.  Their 
journeys,  instead,  had  been  forgotten,  save  in  a  few  tales  and  folk 
ballads.  Only  strange  legends  of  mysterious  isles  beyond  the 
western  seas  had  remained  in  Europe  to  suggest  that  new  lands 
might  lie  far  over  the  Atlantic. 

The  first  white  visitors  had  been  the  Norsemen,  the  great  sea- 
rovers  of  the  tenth  and  eleventh  centuries,  who  built  an  empire 
in  the  northern  oceans  extending  from  Scandinavia  to  Iceland. 
From  Iceland  bold  discoverers  had  reached  out  to  the  cold  for- 
bidding shores  of  so-called  'Greenland*.  About  the  year  iooo5 
Lief  Ericson,  *the  Lucky',  was  blown  south  of  his  course  for 
Greenland  and  came  upon  the  coast  of  North  America  proper, 
probably  touching  at  some  point  in  Labrador.  Further  voyaging 
south  brought  him  to  a  land  of  wild  grapes,  'Vineland'  he  called 
it3  that  perhaps  lay  in  Nova  Scotia.  Here  the  Norsemen  even 
planted  a  colony,  but  fighting  among  its  members  and  with  the 
Indians  soon  destroyed  it. 

The  Norsemen  still  continued  to  visit  America,  ranging  along 
its  eastern  coasts.  There  are  claims,  indeed,  that  they  penetrated 
Hudson  Bay  and  reached  the  interior,  claims  based  on  strangely 


inscribed  metal  plates  found  there  and  the  rusted  fragments  of 
weapons.  But  whether  they  did  or  not,  their  discoveries  did  not 
result  in  occupation.  As  Norse  sea  power  faded,  America  sank 
again  into  the  unknown.  Medieval  Europe  was  not  far  enough 
advanced,  had  problems  enough  of  its  own,  and  too  many  frontiers 
at  home  to  develop,  to  pay  heed  to  the  sailors'  tales  of  Norse 
wanderers.  Behind  the  Atlantic  mists,  America  lay  forgotten. 

But  towards  the  year  1500  Europe  was  changing  greatly. 
Powerful  nation-states  were  emerging.  Strong  at  home,  they 
were  ready  to  look  for  imperial  power  abroad.  A  new  wealthy 
middle  class  of  traders  and  business  men  was  eagerly  seeking  to 
extend  the  limits  of  European  commerce,  to  reach  out  over  the 
oceans  to  other  parts  of  the  world.  And  the  learning  and  energy 
of  the  Renaissance  was  bringing  increased  scientific  knowledge 
and  enthusiasm  to  that  cause.  In  particular,  efforts  were  being 
devoted  to  finding  new  routes  by  sea  to  the  fabulous  riches  of  the 
East.  Portugal  and  Spain,  two  rising  nation-states  that  jutted  out 
into  the  ocean,  led  in  these  attempts.  The  Portuguese  were 
pressing  south-east  around  Africa  towards  India.  Christopher 
Columbus,  in  the  service  of  Spain,  sought  to  girdle  the  globe  and 
reach  Asia  by  sailing  west.  In  so  doing  he  rediscovered  the  for- 
gotten continents  of  America. 

Columbus,  for  all  his  greatness,  was  only  part  of  a  mighty 
wave  of  expansion  that  now  swept  west  as  well  as  east  from 
Europe.  As  the  sixteenth  century  began,  the  age  of  discovery  was 
well  under  way.  Gradually  the  whole  eastern  coast  of  North 
America  was  disclosed  to  white  men.  Realizing  that  this  was  not 
Asia  but  a  continent  in  itself,  they  began  to  come  to  America  for 
its  own  sake,  and  not  because  it  lay  athwart  the  way  to  the  East. 
Yet  the  hope  of  finding  passages  through  the  land  mass  continued 
to  invite  the  discoverers,  and  led  to  further  explorations. 

A  south-west  passage  to  the  East  was  found,  through  the 
Straits  of  Magellan  at  the  southern  tip  of  the  Americas.  A  north- 
west passage  was  not;  but  the  dream  of  it  continued  to  haunt  men 



and  to  send  them  further  and  further  north  into  ice-filled  Arctic 
waters.  Only  in  the  twentieth  century,  in  fact,  was  the  dangerous 
north-west  passage  above  America  finally  navigated,  and  it  has 
no  commercial  value  to-day. 

The  search  for  the  north-west  passage,  however,  the  hopes  of 
unknown  riches,  the  enterprise  of  business  men  and  seafarers 
and  the  dreams  of  national  power,  brought  men  from  a  newly 
aggressive  Europe  to  America  in  the  sixteenth  century.  And  so 
the  real  history  of  Canada  began.  Another  motive  was  the  desire 
to  carry  Christianity  to  the  pagan  Indians  who  were  found  in  the 
New  World.  When,  in  the  course  of  the  sixteenth  century,  the 
Reformation  split  Christian  Europe  into  armed  Protestant  and 
Catholic  camps,  then  the  religious  motive  received  new  force. 
Men  came  to  America  either  to  gain  souls  for  the  Catholic  or 
Protestant  faiths,  or  to  escape  religious  persecution  at  home.  Yet 
though  zeal  for  religion,  riches  or  power,  and  sheer  curiosity  and 
love  of  adventure  all  played  their  parts,  two  humbler  instruments 
were  also  significant  in  opening  up  Canada.  They  were  the  cod- 
fish and  the  beaver. 

4    The  Codfish  and  the  Beaver 

Shortly  before  the  sixteenth  century  began,  on  a  summer's  day 
in  1497,  the  ship  'Matthew'  of  Bristol,  under  Master  John  Cabot, 
made  an  all-important  discovery.  It  was  not  Cipangu,  or  Japan, 
which  Cabot  was  seeking  in  sailing  west,  inimitation  of  Columbus's 
voyage  of  five  years  earlier.  It  was  not  'the  Newfoundland'  which 
he  did  discover,  and  for  which  King  Henry  VII  of  England 
rewarded  him  with  the  generous  gift  of  ten  pounds.  It  was  a  sea 
so  thickly  swarming  with  fish  that  it  seemed  almost  solid,  and 
baskets  let  down  on  ropes  from  the  deck  of  the  ship  could  be  taken 
up  crammed  full.  Cabot  had  come  upon  the  great  fishing  banks 
off  North  America,  that  would  bring  fisherman  from  Europe  in 
increasing  numbers,  and  would  finally  lead  them  to  set  up  fishing 
stations  on  the  nearby  shores. 



Cabot's  voyage,  and  those  which  he  and  his  son  Sebastian 
made  later,  had  further  significance.  They  showed  that  England, 
newly  strengthened  under  the  Tudor  kings,  was  also  entering  on 
overseas  expansion,  and  that  English  trading  enterprise  as  well 
was  turning  in  this  direction;  for  though,  like  Columbus,  Cabot 
was  Italian,  he  sailed  for  the  merchants  of  the  port  of  Bristol. 
These  voyages,  moreover,  uncovered  much  of  the  north-eastern 
coasts  of  America  and  provided  the  basis  for  English  claims  in 
the  continent.  But  it  was  the  fisheries  that  Cabot  found  which 
did  most  to  teach  Europeans  the  American  shoreline,  and  to 
acquaint  them  first  with  the  northern  part  of  this  New  World. 

As  reports  of  the  new  fishing  grounds  spread,  fishermen  along 
the  Atlantic  coasts  of  Europe  began  to  make  voyages  each  summer 
to  the  coasts  and  banks  of  Newfoundland.  They  came  from 
Brittany  and  Normandy  in  France,  and  from  Spain  and  Portugal 
as  well  as  England.  From  1500  on,  the  waters  around  Newfound- 
land and  its  harbours  gradually  became  familiar  to  these  unknown 
seamen  of  the  summer  fishing  fleets.  The  fishermen  also  came 
close  to  the  mainland  shores  along  the  lower  reaches  of  the  Gulf 
of  St  Lawrence,  to  fish  off  Cape  Breton  Island  and  Nova  Scotia 

The  large  and  abundant  codfish  was  the  main  catch.  At  first 
the  cod  were  heavily  salted  and  carried  back  'green'  to  Europe  in 
the  holds  of  the  ships.  But  the  practice  of  drying  the  fish  on 
shore  also  came  into  use.  There  was  less  spoilage  this  way,  in  the 
days  before  refrigeration,  and  the  dried  cod  needed  only  a  light 
salting  to  keep  them  during  the  long  voyage  home.  But  as  the 
'dry'  fishery  began  to  replace  the  'green*  fishery  it  led  also  to  the 
first  occupation  of  the  new  land,  since  drying  racks,  or  'flakes', 
had  to  be  built  on  shore,  and  huts  and  storehouses  for  the  men 
who  tended  them  during  the  summer. 

In  this  way  French  and  English  fishing  stations  were  estab- 
lished around  the  coasts  of  Newfoundland  during  the  sixteenth 
century.  The  English  stations  were  chiefly  concentrated  in  the 



eastern  Avalon  peninusla.  The  French  were  scattered  along  the 
northern  and  southern  coasts,  or  even  on  Cape  Breton  and  the 
mainland  shore.  The  Spanish  and  Portuguese  had  kept  to  the 
green  fishery  and  did  not  need  the  same  kind  of  shore  establish- 
ments. Their  fisheries,  moreover,  began  to  decline  in  the  later 
sexteenth  century  as  Portugal's  interests  turned  more  to  the  Indian 
Ocean  and  Spanish  sea-power  began  to  collapse  under  the  attacks 
of  the  English  Elizabethan  sea-dogs. 

At  English  or  French  fishing  stations,  Indians  might  gather  to 
investigate  the  strange  white  men  and  admire  their  knives  and 
metal  goods,  their  clothes  and  blankets,  for  which  they  had  little 
to  offer  in  exchange  except  furs  or  beaver  robes.  But  furs  were 
expensive  luxuries  in  Europe,  while  the  North  American  forest 
held  a  plentiful  supply  of  fur-bearing  animals,  especially  of  the 
beaver.  It  was  soon  apparent  to  the  fishermen  that  they  could 
reap  a  large  profit  by  trading  a  few  knives  or  trinkets  for  pelts  to 
be  sold  in  Europe. 

An  important  side-line  in  fur  trading  developed  at  points  along 
the  Atlantic  shores  among  the  fishermen  established  there  for  the 
summer.  It  was  only  a  matter  of  time  before  some  men  would 
decide  to  engage  only  in  the  profitable  fur  trade,  to  fill  their  ships 
wholly  with  furs,  and  perhaps  to  set  up  permanent  posts  in 
America  to  which  Indians  could  bring  a  constant  supply.  From 
the  fish  of  the  sea,  the  white  men  had  advanced  to  think  of  the 
furs  of  the  land.  They  were  being  drawn  into  the  continent. 

The  milder  climate  of  the  more  southerly  regions  of  North 
America  had  invited  settlement  almost  from  the  start.  Thus  before 
the  sixteenth  century  was  out  the  Spanish  had  built  whole  towns 
in  Mexico  and  central  America.  But  the  colder  northern  half  of 
the  continent,  with  its  heavy  forests,  was  not  so  inviting.  Yet  in 
that  same  northern  forest  lay  one  easily  available  source  of  wealth 
—-fur.  Hence  the  fur  trade  first  brought  white  men  to  occupy 
Canada  and  long  remained  the  chief  reason  behind  any  colonies 
established  within  its  bounds. 



Furthermore,  about  the  end  of  the  sixteenth  century,  the  felt 
hat  came  into  widespread  use  in  Europe,  and  it  was  discovered 
that  beaver  fur  made  excellent  felt  for  hats.  The  beaver  hat 
became  the  fashion,  and  remained  so  until  the  middle  of  the  nine- 
teenth century.  The  fur  trade  of  the  beaver-rich  northern  forests 
of  America  took  on  new  importance.  The  beaver  to-day  is  rightly 
a  national  Canadian  symbol,  but  perhaps  the  beaver  hat  would 
have  been  quite  as  symbolic.  At  any  rate,  to  a  great  extent  Canada 
was  built  on  the  back  of  the  beaver.  The  fisheries  kept  their 
importance,  but  the  fur  trade  expanded  steadily,  and  spread  west- 
ward into  the  interior  as  the  regions  close  to  the  coast  were  ex- 
hausted of  their  supply  of  furs.  As  the  fur  trade  moved  west,  so 
did  the  line  of  European  occupation,  until  finally  a  vast  fur  empire 
stretched  across  Canada  to  the  Pacific. 

It  was  the  French  who  reared  the  first  fur-trade  empire  within 
what  is  now  Canada.  The  first  period  of  Canadian  history  is  thus 
that  of  the  French  regime.  But  before  turning  to  the  story  of  New 
France,  it  is  well  to  recall  the  factors  that  lay  behind  it:  the 
Indians,  the  first  fur  hunters,  who  showed  white  men  how  to  live 
in  the  Canadian  wilds;  the  age  of  discovery,  which  turned  the 
eyes  of  Europe  to  this  continent;  and  the  codfish  and  the  beaver 
which  first  brought  Europeans  in  numbers  to  Canada  and  led 
them  to  stay  and  seek  to  possess  the  land. 






i    A  Century  of  Exploration  without  Occupation 

No  successful  colony  was  founded  in  Canada  until  after  1600. 
During  the  previous  century,  however,  while  the  coastal  fisheries 
were  thriving  and  the  fur  trade  beginning,  a  good  deal  of  explora- 
tion and  preparatory  efforts  paved  the  way  for  the  colonies  that 
were  to  come.  The  voyages  of  Cabot  had  been  followed  by 
further  expeditions,  Portuguese  and  French  as  well  as  English,  to 
the  north-eastern  coasts  of  the  American  continent.  Yet  England's 
interest  in  discovery  only  rose  to  its  peak  in  the  latter  half  of  the 
sixteenth  century.  Then,  during  the  great  reign  of  Elizabeth,  the 
growth  of  English  sea-enterprise  showed  itself  in  Canadian  waters 
in  renewed  attempts  to  find  the  north-west  passage :  a  way  to  the 
East  that  would  not  be  blocked  by  the  Spanish  or  Portuguese 

Frobisher,  Davis,  and  other  English  seamen  penetrated  into  the 
sub- Arctic  regions,  working  their  way  up  the  perilous  seas  between 
Greenland  and  the  Canadian  shores,  only  to  be  stopped  by  ice- 
fields. Early  in  the  next  century,  Henry  Hudson,  perhaps  the 
last  of  the  great  Elizabethan  discoverers,  thought  that  he  had 
finally  found  the  passage  to  Asia  when  he  turned  westward 
through  the  gap  of  Hudson  Strait  into  the  broad,  land-locked  Bay 
that  also  bears  his  name.  But  he  perished  in  its  icy  waters  in 
1611,  set  adrift  in  an  open  boat  by  a  mutinous  crew.  The  English 
were  not  to  find  the  north-west  passage,  though  Hudson's  dis- 
covery had  really  opened  a  seaway  for  them  into  the  heart  of 
North  America. 

English  interest  in  Newfoundland  had  meanwhile  continued. 
In  1583  Sir  Humphrey  Gilbert  took  formal  possession  of  the 
eastern  part  of  the  island  in  the  name  of  his  queen.  A  permanent 

THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1534-1663 

English  settlement,  however,  was  not  attempted  until  1610. 
Besides,  England  was  increasingly  turning  its  attention  south  of 
the  limits  of  Canada,  to  the  coastline  of  the  present  United  States. 
Gilbert's  half-brother,  Sir  Walter  Raleigh,  had  tried  to  place  a 
colony  on  this  coast  at  Roanoke  Island,  during  Elizabeth's  reign; 
but  its  inhabitants  had  mysteriously  vanished,  leaving  only  a 
name  carved  on  a  tree. 

Soon  after  1600  a  new  English  attempt  succeeded  in  founding 
Jamestown,  Virginia,  and  thenceforward  England's  colonial  enter- 
prise was  chiefly  directed  to  the  areas  from  Virginia  to  New 
England.  Jamestown  was  established  in  1607;  the  first  colony  in 
New  England,  that  of  the  Pilgrims,  in  1620.  The  Dutch,  another 
rising  maritime  people,  had  meanwhile  begun  a  settlement  at  the 
mouth  of  the  Hudson  River,  between  New  England  and  Virginia. 
But  both  English  and  Dutch  had  left  the  harder,  more  northerly 
coasts  of  Canada  alone. 

It  was  the  French  instead  who  chiefly  concerned  themselves 
with  the  region  of  Canada.  Their  fishermen  had  early  ventured 
into  the  Gulf  of  St  Lawrence  and  to  the  mainland  shores,  while 
the  English  had  remained  based  in  Newfoundland.  In  the  first 
part  of  the  sixteenth  century,  moreover,  the  newly  powerful 
French  monarchy  under  Francis  I  was  dreaming  of  a  New  World 
empire  that  would  match  that  of  its  rival,  Spain.  Accordingly, 
Francis  sent  out  expeditions  to  survey  the  American  coast  north 
of  the  Spanish  possessions,  to  claim  land,  discover  treasure,  and 
perhaps  find  the  true  north-west  passage.  A  hard-bitten  Breton 
sailor  served  King  Francis  best :  Jacques  Carrier  was  his  name.  He 
discovered  the  St  Lawrence  river,  and  unlocked  the  northern  half 
of  the  continent  to  France. 

Cartier  made  his  first  voyage  in  the  King's  service  in  1534.  He 
sailed  into  the  broad  Gulf  of  St  Lawrence  and  pushed  on  across 
it,  beyond  where  fishermen  had  gone  before.  He  reached  the 
Gaspe  peninsula,  at  the  tip  of  the  present  province  of  Quebec,  in 
a  hot  July  of  blue  skies,  wild  roses  and  strawberries,  and  there 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1534-1663 

erected  a  thirty-foot  cross  claiming  all  the  land  for  France.  He 
had  done  more  as  well.  He  had  shown  that  behind  the  rocks  and 
fog  of  the  Atlantic  coast  and  the  lower  Gulf  shores  lay  a  smiling 
country  of  great  trees  and  grassy  meadows.  This  new  land  far  to 
the  west  seemed  much  more  suitable  for  settlement 

The  next  year  Carder  returned  and  this  time  sailed  on  beyond 
Gaspe,  entering  the  mouth  of  the  St  Lawrence  river.  While  he 
voyaged  upstream  in  the  early  autumn  of  1535,  he  might  well 
have  thought  that  here  at  last  was  the  passage  to  India,  as  the 
river  stretched  its  mighty  length  into  the  hazy  distance,  and  days 
of  sailing  along  a  shore  crowned  with  golden  ash,  reddening 
maples  and  wild  grapes  brought  no  sign  of  the  channel's  end.  At 
length  he  reached  narrows  in  the  river,  between  a  bold  promon- 
tory and  a  broad,  beautiful  island,  where  he  stopped  to  visit  the 
Iroquois  Indian  village  of  Stadacona.  This  would  be  the  site  of 
Quebec.  And  Cartier,  misunderstanding  an  Iroquois  word,  per- 
haps a  reference  to  the  Indian  corn  fields,  thought  that  the 
country's  name  was  Canada.  'The  river  of  Canada',  he  named 
the  broad  St  Lawrence. 

The  river  channel  once  more  spread  before  him  beyond  the 
Quebec  narrows,  and  he  sailed  on,  until  at  last,  near  the  Indian 
village  of  Hochelaga,  rapids  barred  his  ship  from  proceeding 
further.  Yet  Cartier  climbed  a  nearby  crest  and  gazed  on  into  the 
west  at  the  broad  silver  stream  that  wound  through  the  unknown 
forests.  Was  it  the  way  to  India?  Reluctantly  he  turned  back, 
having  named  the  mountain  crest  Mount  Royal.  It  would  give  its 
name  to  Canada's  chief  city,  Montreal,  which  grew  up  where  the 
rapids  in  the  river  halted  ocean-going  ships,  as  they  had  Carrier's 

Autumn  was  passing,  and  at  Stadacona  Cartier  halted  his 
expedition  to  wait  for  spring,  rather  than  dare  the  dangerous 
winter  Atlantic  crossing.  But  the  smiling  land  now  turned  a  cold 
and  frowning  face  to  the  inexperienced  Frenchmen.  Many  fell 
sick  and  died  that  winter,  penned  up  in  their  makeshift  little 


THE  BUILDING   OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1534-1663 

encampment.  Nevertheless,  Carder  returned  to  France  with 
glowing  tales  of  the  wonders  of  Canada :  of  the  river  that  might 
lead  to  Asia,  of  the  gold  and  diamonds  that  might  be  found,  and 
the  mysterious  Kingdom  of  the  Saguenay,  a  land  of  jewels  and 
spices,  perhaps  a  part  of  India,  that  the  Indians  had  described. 
They  had,  indeed;  but  it  had  been  an  artistic  invention  of  the 
Indian  story-tellers  to  please  the  credulous  French. 

In  any  case,  the  French  king  was  convinced,  and  this  time 
ordered  a  large  expedition  fitted  out,  in  order  to  found  a  colony. 
A  court  favourite,  the  Sieur  de  Roberval,  was  placed  in  command, 
with  Cartier  as  his  chief  pilot.  The  expedition  was  delayed  until 
1541,  however.  Cartier  and  five  ships  then  left  for  Canada, 
expecting  Roberval  to  follow.  But  Roberval  delayed  further,  until 
the  spring  of  1542.  By  this  time  Cartier,  having  wintered  in  the 
new  land  again,  had  set  out  back  to  France,  discouraged  by  now 
from  believing  that  the  St  Lawrence  was  the  way  to  India,  that 
the  kingdom  of  the  Saguenay  existed,  or  that  any  gold  was  to  be 
found  in  Canada.  RobervaTs  colony  merely  proved  the  same 
things,  and  the  next  year,  in  1543,  after  a  hard  winter  at  Cap 
Rouge  above  Quebec,  the  colonists  returned  home.  Canada  and 
Cartier  had  failed  them. 

Yet,hadthey  known  it,  in  the  river  itself  that  Cartier  had  found, 
and  in  the  furs  that  the  Indians  of  the  river  were  so  eager  to  trade 
for  European  goods  lay  real  wealth,  and  the  future  of  France  in 
America.  Later  French  adventurers  were  to  build  New  France 
on  these  foundations.  It  was  only  a  matter  of  time,  once  more, 
before  Carrier's  work  as  a  forerunner  would  lead  to  the  permanent 
French  occupation  of  Canada. 

2     The  Day  of  Champlain 

The  failure  of  Roberval's  colony  and  renewed  war  with  Spain 
discouraged  the  French  monarchy  after  1543  from  further  attempts 
to  build  an  empire  in  America.  Then  came  the  most  bitter  kind 
of  war — civil  and  religious  conflict — to  distract  France  for  nearly 


THE    BUILDINCi    Of    NEW    FRANCE,    1534-1003 


BEFORE   1760 

0  200  -400 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1534-1663 

forty  years  more.  It  was  only  at  the  close  of  the  sixteenth  century, 
when  a  strong  king,  Henry  IV,  had  restored  order  to  his  country, 
that  the  French  turned  once  more  towards  colonizing  Canada. 
Nevertheless,  in  the  years  between  1543  and  1600  private  French 
ships  had  continued  to  visit  Carrier's  river  of  Canada  and  had 
extended  the  fur  trade  to  the  St  Lawrence.  The  feeling  was  rising 
that  great  opportunities  for  wealth  and  power  might  lie  in  that 
region,  if  France  would  only  act. 

Henry  IV,  accordingly,  was  ready  to  grant  a  monopoly  of  trade 
in  order  to  establish  colonies  in  America.  The  practice  of  colonial 
monopolies  was  widely  accepted  in  Europe  at  the  time.  Wealthy 
nobles  and  merchants,  singly  or  in  groups,  would  seek  a  royal 
charter  of  monopoly  granting  them  sole  rights  of  trade  and  control 
in  some  portion  of  the  new  world  overseas,  in  exchange  for  their 
undertaking  to  develop  the  country  and  plant  a  settlement  there. 
The  monopoly  protected  the  adventuring  group  from  having  to 
struggle  against  trade  rivals  as  well  as  against  the  wilderness. 
The  crown  in  return  would  see  its  colonial  holdings  built  up. 
This  pattern  of  monopolies  lay  behind  the  early  history  of  New 
Prance,  as  well  as  that  of  the  English  colonies  on  the  American 

The  fur  trade,  moreover,  which  was  to  be  so  significant  in  the 
case  of  New  France,  lent  itself  readily  to  monopoly.  Although  its 
profits  might  be  high,  the  market  was  uncertain,  since  furs  were 
a  luxury,  not  a  necessity;  and  though  profits  might  not  be  sure, 
costs  were  inevitably  heavy.  Trade  goods  had  to  be  carried  across 
the  width  of  the  ocean  and  the  furs  transported  as  far  back  to  the 
uncertain  market.  Hence  a  struggle  between  competing  traders 
might  easily  wipe  out  the  shaky  profits.  It  seemed  that  only  a 
group  with  a  monopoly  could  afford  the  burden  of  transportation 
and  stand  the  risk  of  bad  markets  by  avoiding  the  ruinous  drain 
of  competition.  At  any  rate,  throughout  the  history  of  the  fur 
trade  in  Canada  there  was  a  constant  tendency  towards  monopoly 
control,  while  strong  competition  between  traders  usually  ended 

THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1534-1663 

in  the  ruin  of  some  and  the  merging  of  the  survivors  in  a  single 

Though  the  granting  of  fur-trade  monopolies  accompanied  re- 
vived French  interest  in  Canada  at  the  close  of  the  sixteenth 
century,  the  first  monopolists  failed  in  their  efforts  to  found 
colonies.  But  when  at  length  monopolists  succeeded,  the  credit 
was  not  due  to  the  merchants  or  noblemen  in  France  but  to  their 
agent  hi  America:  to  Samuel  de  Champlain,  the  true  founder  of 
New  France. 

Champlain  was  an  ardent  Catholic,  an  able  geographer,  and  a 
soldier  and  seaman  who  had  already  voyaged  to  the  Spanish 
possessions  in  the  New  World.  He  made  his  first  voyage  to 
Canada  in  1603,  when  he  sailed  for  the  French  monopolists  of  the 
day  to  trade  for  furs  in  the  St  Lawrence.  Champlain  must  have 
been  struck  by  the  possibilities  of  planting  a  French  colony  on  the 
river  to  control  the  trade.  On  his  return  to  France  he  found  that 
the  Sieur  de  Monts,  the  new  monopolist,  was  planning  a  colonial 
venture,  and  the  next  year  de  Monts  and  Champlain  left  for 
America  with  a  royal  patent  and  120  colonists. 

They  first  tried  to  found  a  colony  on  the  more  accessible 
Atlantic  shores  of  Canada  rather  than  in  the  distant  St  Lawrence 
valley.  The  first  site,  on  the  island  of  St  Croix  in  the  Bay  of 
Fundy,  proved  an  unwise  choice,  the  island  lacking  water  and 
wood.  In  1605,  after  a  disastrous  winter,  the  colony  was  moved 
across  the  Bay  to  the  Nova  Scotian  side,  to  Port  Royal,  now 
Annapolis  Royal.  Port  Royal,  set  in  the  fertile  Annapolis  valley, 
proved  an  excellent  site,  and  the  first  crops  planted  in  Canada  by 
white  men  were  harvested  there.  Cultivated  fields  began  to 
spread  by  Fundy  side,  and  within  the  log  buildings  of  Port  Royal 
the  settlers  enlivened  winter's  evenings  with  the  first  social  club 
in  Canada,  the  Order  of  Good  Cheer,  dedicated  to  feasting  and 

Port  Royal  grew  slowly,  however,  and  there  were  quarrels  over 
the  fur-trade  monopoly  in  this  maritime  region,  now  becoming 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1534-1663 

known  as  Acadia.  De  Monts,  in  fact,  lost  his  monopoly  in  1607. 
His  settlers  returned  to  France.  For  a  few  years  Port  Royal  was 
deserted.  Acadia  was  empty  except  for  fishing  stations.  A  new 
grant  and  new  colonists  then  re-established  the  settlement,  but  its 
troubles  were  only  beginning.  Meanwhile  de  Monts,  largely 
through  Champlain's  persuasion,  had  transferred  his  interest  from 
Acadia  to  the  St  Lawrence  valley,  and  had  gained  a  new  trade 
monopoly  for  this  region.  Accordingly,  Chatnplain  was  sent  out 
again  by  de  Monts'  company,  this  time  to  the  St  Lawrence.  There, 
in  1608,  where  the  river  narrows  by  the  bluffs  of  Quebec,  a 
natural  fortress  commanding  the  river,  Champlain  built  a  trading 
post.  Thus  the  capital  of  New  France,  the  oldest  city  in  Canada, 
came  into  existence. 

In  the  next  few  years  from  his  post  at  Quebec,  Champlain 
pushed  on  up-river  in  the  canoes  of  friendly  Indians  until  he  had 
explored  much  of  the  unknown  country  that  Cartier  had  viewed 
from  the  top  of  Mount  Royal.  Champlain's  purposes  were  several: 
zeal  to  spread  French  claims  and  Catholic  Christianity,  the  hope 
still  that  the  St  Lawrence  might  lead  to  the  western  sea,  and  a 
good  agent's  concern  for  the  fur  trade.  There  promised  to  be  a 
rich  harvest  of  furs  if  Champlain  could  bring  the  French  in 
contact  with  western  Indians.  This  motive  was  never  far  from 
mind  in  the  exploring  ventures  of  Champlain  and  his  successors. 

Furthermore,  the  Montagnais,  Algonquin  Indians  who  had 
replaced  the  Iroquois  on  the  St  Lawrence  since  Carrier's  time, 
urged  the  French  to  accompany  them  in  raids  against  their 
Iroquois  enemies  to  the  south  and  west.  Champlain  went  with 
them,  since  the  French  had  to  keep  the  friendship  of  the  Algon- 
quins  of  the  St  Lawrence  in  order  to  obtain  the  necessary  supply 
of  furs.  In  1609,  on  Lake  Champlain  to  the  south,  a  few  shots 
from  French  muskets  easily  scattered  an  Iroquois  war  party,  who 
had  never  seen  guns  before.  But  those  shots  were  to  be  answered 
in  fire  and  bloodshed  about  New  France  in  years  to  come,  for  the 
Iroquois  proved  a  powerful  and  relentless  foe. 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1534-1663 

The  raiding  and  exploring  missions  with  Indian  allies  taught 
Champlain  and  his  few  French  companions  the  art  of  the  canoe 
and  the  life  of  the  forest.  At  the  same  time  these  journeys 
disclosed  to  white  men  the  Richelieu  river  and  Lake  Champlain 
to  the  south  of  the  St  Lawrence  and  the  Ottawa  river  on  the 
northern  side.  The  Ottawa  would  become  a  great  fur  trade  high- 
way to  the  West.  In  1615,  Champlain  travelled  up  the  Ottawa 
and  west  to  Lake  Huron,  where  broad  horizons  of  water  in  the 
middle  of  a  continent  met  his  astonished  gaze.  The  'freshwater 
sea'  he  called  it.  The  French  had  reached  the  Great  Lakes. 

From  Lake  Huron  Champlain  went  southward  to  Lake 
Ontario  through  the  country  of  the  Hurons,  which  lay  in  the 
centre  of  what  is  now  southern  Ontario.  Although  of  Iroquois 
stock,  the  Hurons  were  also  enemies  of  the  Five  Nations  Iro- 
quois, and  Champion  accompanied  a  Huron  war  party  on  a  raid 
south  of  Lake  Ontario  that  was  none  too  successful.  The  French, 
it  is  true,  had  made  an  important  alliance,  since  the  Hurons 
became  their  chief  suppliers  of  western  furs.  Yet  the  quarrel  with 
the  Iroquois  had  gone  a  stage  further.  And  in  the  long  run  it 
would  result  in  the  Hurons  themselves  being  wiped  out. 

This  consequence  was  still  far  in  the  future,  and  in  the  mean- 
time Champlain  had  laid  the  basis  of  the  French  inland  fur  trade. 
His  *youn§  men33  lieutenants  like  Brule  and  Nicolet,  who  lived 
with  the  Indians,  carried  on  the  work  of  exploring  the  Great 
Lakes  basin.  As  men  like  these  ranged  freely  over  the  wilderness, 
there  began  to  emerge  the  type  of  French  fur-hunter  and  half- 
savage  forest-dweller  to  be  known  as  the  coureur-de-bois. 

At  the  same  time  settlers  were  beginning  to  arrive  at  Quebec 
from  France,  to  make  New  France  something  more  than  a 
wilderness  fur  preserve.  Louis  Hebert,  a  retired  Paris  chemist, 
was  the  first  to  come.  He  arrived  with  his  family  in  1617  and  began 
farming  outside  the  stockades  of  Quebec.  Under  Champlain's 
earnest  guidance  as  governor  of  the  settlement,  lands  were  cleared 
and  crops  planted.  But  there  were  still  only  sixty-five  colonists 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1534-1663 

in  New  France  ten  years  later,  and  the  following  year,  1628,  the 
feeble  settlement  was  threatened  with  destruction  by  an  English 

The  English  attack  by  sea,  under  David  Kirke  and  his  two 
brothers,  was  largely  a  private  buccaneering  venture,  although 
war  had  broken  out  between  France  and  England  in  Europe.  The 
English  did  not  actually  sail  up  the  river  to  Quebec  until  1629, 
but  when  they  did,  Champlain,  now  an  elderly  man,  was  forced 
to  surrender  his  weak  little  settlement.  Yet  because  of  the  delay  in 
the  attack,  the  war  in  Europe  was  actually  over  when  this  first 
English  conquest  of  Canada  occurred.  Champlain,  who  had  gone 
back  to  France,  therefore  pressed  the  French  Government  to 
demand  the  return  of  Quebec,  and  in  1632  Canada  was  restored 
to  French  rule. 

Champlain  returned  to  his  beloved  New  France  as  governor,  to 
die  there  in  1635  as  the  settlement  at  last  was  forging  ahead.  In 
his  day  he  had  served  his  country  well.  Not  only  had  he  explored 
much  of  the  St  Lawrence  water-system,  not  only  had  he  planted 
a  permanent  colony  in  Canada,  but  he  had  as  well  founded  a  great 
French  fur  empire  in  the  heart  of  North  America. 

3    For  the  Glory  of  God 

Despite  the  advance  of  the  fur  traders  into  the  interior,  the 
settled  heart  of  New  France  grew  very  slowly.  Champlain  had 
brought  out  colonists  in  his  last  years  to  spread  settlements  along 
the  St  Lawrence,  and  had  founded  Three  Rivers  upstream  from 
Quebec  in  1634.  Yet  whatever  he  and  his  successors  as  governors 
of  the  colony  attempted  in  trying  to  encourage  its  growth,  the 
unfortunate  fact  was  that  the  fur  trade  tended  to  discourage 
settlement.  The  enterprise  which  had  virtually  created  New 
France  also  held  it  back. 

Settlement  was  the  foe  of  the  forest;  but  it  was  on  the  forest 
that  the  fur  trade  lived.  The  fur  monopolists  in  France  could  not 
help  but  be  lukewarm  in  carrying  out  the  terms  of  their  royal 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1534-1663 

grant,  that  committed  them  to  plant  colonies  in  Canada.  Bringing 
out  settlers  was  expensive,  moreover,  and  would  cut  into  fur 
profits.  And  in  Canada  itself,  the  dream  of  a  quick  fortune  made 
in  the  fur  trade,  and  the  free  life  of  the  forest,  tended  to  lure  men 
from  the  stern  task  of  hacking  out  a  pioneer  farm.  While  the  fur 
trade  led  New  France  to  reach  far  into  the  interior,  it  also  diffused 
its  strength  and  delayed  the  growth  of  concentrated  settlement. 

Despite  the  best  efforts  of  Champlain  in  Canada,  the  monopoly 
changed  hands  several  times,  because  of  the  repeated  failure  of 
monopolists  in  France  to  fulfil  their  obligations  to  colonize.  Then 
in  1627,  the  great  Cardinal  Richelieu,  chief  minister  of  France, 
formed  a  new  organization,  the  Company  of  New  France,  made 
up  of  a  select  group  of  a  hundred  wealthy  associates  who  were  to 
hold  the  monopoly  and  to  make  France  as  strong  in  America  as 
Richelieu  sought  to  make  her  in  Europe.  But  in  1628  the  Kirkes 
captured  the  first  large  convoy  of  supplies  and  settlers  sent  out 
by  the  Company  on  its  way  to  Canada.  This  nearly  ruined  the 
Company  of  a  Hundred  Associates  at  the  start.  It  never  really 
recovered,  and  hence  its  obligation  to  bring  out  4,000  settlers  in 
fifteen  years  was  never  fulfilled.  In  1645,  in  fact,  the  nearly  bank- 
rupt company  handed  over  its  fur  trade  monopoly  to  a  group  in 
Canada,  the  Company  of  the  Habitants,  for  an  annual  rent. 
France's  attention  was  now  taken  up  with  the  Thirty  Years'  War 
in  Europe,  and  Canada  was  left  much  to  itself.  The  fur  trade 
continued  to  extend  westward,  the  company  granted  lands, 
which  usually  remained  empty,  but  New  France  stagnated  in 

In  this  case,  when  the  state  and  business  enterprise  had  largely 
failed  the  colony,  it  was  the  Catholic  Church  that  stepped  in,  that 
supplied  enthusiasm,  stimulated  some  settlement,  at  least,  and 
left  an  enduring  mark  on  the  character  of  New  France.  In  old 
France  at  this  time,  the  zeal  of  the  Catholic  Counter-Reformation 
was  running  high.  What  better  task  for  the  Catholic  than  to  win 
new  lands  to  the  faith,  especially  the  pagan  wilds  of  America? 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1534-1663 

Priests,  religious  orders  and  some  laymen  all  shared  the  grand 
ideal.  Out  of  it,  indeed,  the  city  of  Montreal  was  born. 

The  island  of  Montreal,  where  Carrier's  Mount  Royal  stood, 
was  already  becoming  an  important  trading  centre,  since  it  was 
situated  at  the  crossroads  of  great  water  routes,  the  Richelieu  from 
the  south  and  the  Ottawa  and  upper  St  Lawrence  from  the  west. 
It  was,  in  fact,  the  gateway  to  the  west;  then  and  now  the  key  to 
a  continent-wide  trade.  This  same  commanding  position  was  an 
exposed  one,  open  to  Indian  attack  from  many  angles.  It  lay  on 
a  dangerous  frontier,  far  upstream  from  Quebec.  Yet  despite  this 
perilous  location,  and  indeed  because  of  it,  a  devoted  group  of 
Catholic  laymen  decided  to  found  a  mission  and  hospital  for  the 
Indians  there — 'though  every  tree  should  be  an  Iroquois.'  Led  by 
a  pious  soldier,  Maisonneuve,  almost  a  latter-day  Crusader  in 
spirit,  and  a  brave  woman,  Jeanne  Mance,  Canada's  first  nurse,  a 
party  of  fifty-four  set  out  from  France.  In  1642  they  founded 
Ville-Marie,  the  ancestor  of  modern  Montreal. 

Churchmen,  meanwhile,  were  also  active.  The  warmly  Catholic 
Champlain  had  early  appealed  for  missionaries  to  be  sent  to 
Christianize  Canada,  and  four  Recollet  fathers  had  come  out  in 
1615.  Realizing  the  size  of  the  task,  however,  the  Recollets  had 
sought  the  aid  of  the  powerful  Society  of  Jesus,  that  was  dedicated 
to  the  work  of  conversion  in  particular  and  had  already  sent 
missions  as  far  as  India  and  China.  Three  Jesuits  arrived  in 
Canada  in  1625.  The  power  and  influence  of  the  order  in  New 
France  rose  rapidly  in  the  following  years,  until,  in  fact,  they 
almost  came  to  dominate  the  colony. 

Jesuit  power  did  much  for  Canada.  The  Jesuits'  interest  in  the 
country  and  their  influence  in  France  helped  keep  the  colony  from 
complete  neglect.  They  sought  to  encourage  settlement,  for  they 
warmly  believed  in  New  France.  To  this  end  the  Jesuit  Relations, 
annual  reports  on  their  activities  in  Canada,  enthusiastically  set 
forth  the  merits  of  life  in  the  new  country.  Besides  being  an  in- 
valuable and  fascinating  source  of  information  on  early  Canadian 


THE  BUILDING   OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1534-1663 

history,  the  Relations  are  in  a  way  an  interesting  example  of  emi- 
gration propaganda.  And  they  did  attain  wide  publicity  for  New 

The  Jesuits  also  sought  to  restrain  the  evils  of  trading  liquor  to 
the  Indians.  They  tried  to  teach,  guide  and  protect  the  native.  For 
the  settler's  guidance  as  well,  they  secured  the  appointment  of 
the  first  bishop  of  New  France,  Francois  de  Montmorency-Laval. 
The  new  bishop  did  a  great  deal  to  fill  out  the  structure  of  the 
church  in  order  to  meet  the  needs  of  the  ordinary  Canadian 
colonist,  until  it  became  part  of  the  very  fabric  of  his  daily  life. 
And  Laval,  the  friend  of  the  Jesuits,  was  as  devoted  to  the  Papacy 
as  they  were.  He  established  a  Catholic  Church  in  Canada 
directly  linked  to  Rome  rather  than  to  France.  This  has  remained 
an  enduring  tie  in  French  Canada. 

Yet  the  unbending  discipline  of  the  Jesuits  and  their  sweeping 
views  on  the  extent  of  their  religious  powers  caused  trouble  in 
New  France.  They  clashed  with  merchants,  governors  and  the 
other  clergy,  and  many  resented  their  control  over  ideas  and 
society,  or  feared  that  they  sought  absolute  power.  But  the 
Jesuits'  efforts  outside  the  colony,  among  the  Indians,  aroused  less 
questioning,  and  earned  them  lasting  honour  for  tireless  courage 
and  high  devotion  to  their  ideals. 

There  were  others  besides  Jesuits  who  established  missions  and 
schools  for  the  Indians,  among  them  brave  and  diligent  nuns.  Yet 
the  Jesuit  missions  among  the  far-off  Hurons  have  rightly  cap- 
tured more  attention  in  history.  To  begin  with,  they  were  im- 
portant for  French  imperial  power  and  the  fur  trade.  The  mission 
centres  in  Huron  villages  served  to  cement  the  French  alliance 
with  the  chief  tribe  of  the  Great  Lakes  country  and  strengthened 
the  trading  partnership  that  brought  the  French  on  the  St  Lawrence 
so  many  western  furs.  But  beyond  this,  the  labours  of  the  Jesuit 
fathers,  that,  ended  in  martyrdom,  were  a  tremendous  effort  to 
win  a  savage,  half -comprehending  people  to  Christianity  and  civil- 
ization. They  were  no  less  outstanding  because  they  finally  failed. 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1534-1663 

The  mission  to  the  Hurons  had  really  begun  in  1634  when  the 
Jesuit  father  Brebeuf  and  two  companions  were  at  last  permitted 
by  the  suspicious  natives  to  return  with  them  to  their  country. 
Conversions  were  slow,  because  of  the  strangeness  to  the  Indians 
of  the  white  man's  teachings,  and  because  of  the  active  hostility 
of  tribal  medicine  men.  A  permanent  central  mission,  called  Ste 
Marie,  was  established  in  1639,  however,  and  others  were  gradu- 
ally planted  in  Huron  villages  and  even  among  neighbouring 
tribes.  Ste  Marie  was  really  the  first  civilized  site  in  the  present 
province  of  Ontario.  Archaelogists  to-day  can  trace  here  the  first 
canal  built  in  Canada. 

The  mission  to  the  Hurons  was  doomed  even  as  it  seemed  at 
last  to  be  succeeding.  By  1640,  the  Iroquois  torrent  was  rising 
to  sweep  it  away.  Yet  though  that  torrent  raged  about  New 
France  in  the  years  thereafter,  the  courageous  example  of  the 
men  who  had  worked  for  the  glory  of  God  remained  to  strengthen 
the  colony  in  its  struggle  for  survival. 

4    The  Peril  of  the  Iroquois 

From  1640  on  mounting  waves  of  Indian  war  threatened  the 
very  life  of  New  France.  The  Indian  allies  of  the  French  were 
involved  first,  but  before  the  conflict  was  over  the  colony  was 
almost  living  under  siege.  Its  development  was  further  held 
back.  Murderous  raids  out  of  the  forest  were  a  constant  threat. 
It  took  the  might  of  the  crown  of  France,  stepping  into  the  neglec- 
ted colony,  before  the  Indian  menace  was  finally  checked  after 

Those  who  had  raised  the  danger  were  the  Five  Nation  Iro- 
quois, the  most  powerful  Indian  confederacy  in  America.  The 
conflict  had  been  long  developing,  and  it  had  not  been  caused 
merely  by  Champlain's  unwise  skirmishing  with  the  Iroquois, 
nor  by  their  desire  for  revenge.  The  whole  pattern  of  the  fur 
trade,  and  of  the  relations  of  red  men  and  white,  had  been  far 
more  significant  in  bringing  on  war. 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1534-1663 

The  fact  was  that  the  Iroquois  had  become  engaged  in  the  fur 
trade,  too,  but  they  bartered  not  with  the  French  but  with  the 
Dutch  who  had  established  posts  in  the  Hudson  River  valley  run- 
ning north  from  their  main  base,  New  Amsterdam,  now  New 
York.  Like  other  Indian  tribes  in  contact  with  white  men,  the 
Iroquois  had  become  dependent  on  European  goods  for  very 
survival — steel  knives  and  traps,  and  the  arms  to  meet  those  that 
their  enemies  were  obtaining  from  the  French.  Lack  of  guns 
could  mean  the  end  of  the  Five  Nations. 

When  the  Iroquois,  who  lay  south  of  Lake  Ontario  and  the  St 
Lawrence  and  north  of  the  Hudson  valley,  had  exhausted  the  furs 
of  their  own  area  in  trade,  they  had  to  reach  out  to  other  regions 
in  order  to  keep  up  the  vital  traffic  in  European  goods.  They 
became  'middlemen',  obtaining  furs  from  other  tribes  to  trade  to 
the  Dutch,  as  the  Hurons  became  middlemen  for  the  French, 
passing  on  western  furs.  But  here  the  Iroquois  lines  of  trade 
clashed  with  those  of  the  Hurons  and  French.  The  latter  allies 
sought  to  drain  the  furs  of  the  Great  Lakes  and  the  west  down  the 
St  Lawrence  river  to  Montreal  and  Quebec.  The  Iroquois  sought 
to  divert  this  trade  to  the  Hudson  river  and  to  the  Dutch.  It 
was  the  St  Lawrence  versus  the  Hudson:  the  struggle  of  two 
great  trading  systems. 

Accordingly  the  Iroquois'  old  struggles  with  the  Hurons  mounted 
in  intensity  as  it  became  a  war  to  control  the  fur  supply  and  to 
maintain  the  flow  of  precious  European  trade  goods.  European 
arms  made  the  fight  much  more  deadly.  The  Iroquois  were  well 
organized  and  desperate.  They  determined  that  the  Hurons  must 
go.  In  1648  they  turned  their  full  force  on  the  Huron  enemy,  and 
on  the  Jesuit  missions  which  they  regarded  as  the  centres  of 
Huron-French  power.  The  mission  village  of  St  Joseph  was  razed 
to  the  ground.  The  next  year  St  Ignace  and  St  Louis  followed; 
and  heroic  Jesuits  like  Brebeuf  and  Lalemant  were  put  to  death 
by  the  Iroquois  with  all  the  cruelty  of  Indian  warfare.  No  longer 
safe,  Ste  Marie  was  left  deserted.  The  proud  Huron  tribe  was 


THE  BUILDING  OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1534-1663 

shattered  into  fragments  of  panic-stricken  refugees,  some  fleeing 
to  the  west,  some  to  the  protection  of  French  settlements,  never 
again  to  form  a  nation.  The  Iroquois  ravaged  the  neighbouring 
tribes  and  then  turned  on  the  French,  for  they  now  felt  strong 
enough  to  attack  the  real  foe  behind  the  Hurons. 

They  set  about  cutting  the  St  Lawrence  trade,  till  no  Algon- 
quin or  remaining  Huron  canoe  dared  to  go  down  to  Montreal. 
The  fur  traffic  almost  came  to  a  stop.  Montreal  itself  was  re- 
peatedly menaced  and  raids  even  came  near  Quebec.  Although 
the  larger  settlements  were  generally  safe  from  direct  attack  the 
outlying  colonists  worked  with  guns  at  hand,  and  the  business  life 
of  New  France  was  at  a  standstill.  Despite  breathing  spells 
during  the  i65o's  the  colony's  future  was  gloomy  in  the  extreme. 

The  turning  point  was  slow  in  coming.  A  large-scale  assault  on 
Montreal  in  1660  was  only  prevented  by  the  gallant  fight-to-the- 
last  of  Adam  Dollard  and  sixteen  comrades  at  Long  Sault,  some 
miles  west  of  Montreal.  The  damage  they  wrought  discouraged 
the  Iroquois  from  attacking  the  well-defended  town.  Yet  the  dan- 
ger of  raids  and  the  trade  blockade  continued,  until  aid  at  last 
came  from  France,  and  the  feeble  control  of  Canada  by  a  company 
was  replaced  by  direct  royal  government  in  1663.  By  1663,  there- 
fore, New  France  stood  at  the  end  of  an  age,  although  at  a  critical 
point  in  its  history.  In  its  first  period  it  had  been  mapped  out  and 
its  foundations  painfully  but  successfully  laid.  Now  the  colony 
was  not  only  to  survive  the  Iroquois  peril  but  to  begin  its  greatest 
period  of  growth  and  expansion. 




i     The  French  Crown  takes  Command 

By  1660  the  French  colony  on  the  St  Lawrence  was  in  desperate 
straits.  The  thin  trickle  of  settlement  under  company  rule  had 
brought  its  population  only  to  about  2,000.  It  was  too  weak  to 
end  the  Iroquois  peril  by  itself ,  and  until  that  was  done  the  colony 
could  not  prosper.  The  settlement  was  even  dependent  on  France 
for  much  of  its  food  supply,  so  slowly  had  farming  developed  in 
face  of  the  fur  trade.  To  add  to  all  this,  the  governors  appointed 
for  the  company  quarrelled  with  the  bishop  and  clergy,  the  clergy 
among  themselves,  and  the  merchants,  fur  traders,  and  farmers 
with  the  authorities  generally.  Help  had  to  come  from  the  home- 
land to  end  the  sad  confusion,  and,  indeed,  to  save  New  France. 

It  was  fortunate  for  French  Canada  that  no  foreign  enemy  as 
well  threatened  it  at  this  point.  Dutch  power  was  declining.  In 
fact,  in  1664,  the  English  were  to  end  it  in  North  America  by 
capturing  the  Dutch  citadel  of  New  Amsterdam,  which  they  re- 
named New  York.  England  itself  had  long  been  busy  with  the 
struggles  of  king  and  parliament  at  home,  and  for  some  years  after 
1660  the  newly  restored  king,  Charles  II,  was  on  friendly  terms 
with  France.  As  for  the  old  French  rival,  Spain,  the  Thirty 
Years'  War  had  resulted  in  exhaustion  and  defeat  for  the  Spanish, 
and  had  left  France  the  strongest  nation  in  Europe. 

Hence  at  this  critical  moment  in  Canada's  history  the  French 
motherland  stood  at  a  peak  of  strength,  under  an  all-powerful 
crown.  In  1661,  Louis  XIV,  the  Sun  King,  came  of  age  and  took 
over  absolute  rule  of  a  rich  and  orderly  France  from  his  earlier 
advisers.  Louis  had  grand  designs  for  his  country,  both  in 
Europe  and  beyond.  France  should  be  the  centre  of  a  mighty 



empire,  reflecting  glory  on  its  royal  master,  who  should  reign  over 
all  with  a  sway  wise  and  fatherly — but  always  absolute. 

Pleas  for  help  from  New  France  were  now  to  receive  a  ready 
hearing,  though  the  French  crown  would  equally  insist  on  com- 
plete control  over  the  colony.  Men,  money,  and  supplies  began 
to  flow  as  the  crown  set  out  to  protect  and  develop  Canada.  It 
was  not  Louis  alone,  however,  who  turned  to  save  New  France 
by  the  use  of  royal  paternalism.  The  king's  chief  instrument  was 
his  great  minister  Colbert,  an  architect  of  French  empire. 

As  minister  of  finance,  Colbert  sought  to  apply  the  prevailing 
doctrines  of  mercantilism  to  increase  the  wealth  and  power  of 
France.  Mercantilism  taught  that,  to  achieve  these  ends,  a  coun- 
try should  sell  more  abroad  than  it  bought,  should  build  up  its 
shipping  and  develop  its  own  sources  of  necessary  raw  materials. 
Colonies  would  supply  raw  materials  and  cut  down  dependence 
on  foreign  sources.  They  would  increase  external  trade,  and  this 
would  encourage  shipping.  A  self-sufficient  empire  could  be  con- 
structed, closed  to  foreign  competitors,  enriching  the  homeland 
in  peace  and  securing  her  in  war.  Under  Colbert  the  French  began 
to  create  such  an  empire  in  seas  both  east  and  west.  In  particular, 
New  France  received  attention  as  an  important  part  of  the 
imperial  scheme. 

First  of  all  the  unsuccessful  company  rule  over  Canada  was 
brought  to  a  close.  The  Company  of  New  France,  a  complete 
failure,  itself  surrendered  its  charter  in  1663.  The  royal  govern- 
ment that  replaced  it  in  authority  was  to  remain  the  same  in 
general  outlines  until  New  France  fell  to  the  British  in  1760.  All 
officials  were  now  directly  appointed  by  the  Crown,  and  the  king's 
court  at  Versailles  kept  a  tight  hand  over  them.  Three  main 
officers  carried  on  the  royal  government  in  New  France:  the 
governor,  the  bishop,  and  the  intendant.  Together  with  a  few 
lesser  councillors,  these  three  composed  the  Sovereign  or  Superior 
Council,  the  official  ruling  body  of  the  colony. 
The  governor,  the  nominal  head  of  government,  was  respon- 


sible  chiefly  for  the  military  affairs  and  the  external  relations  of 
the  colony.  He  was  most  powerful  in  time  of  war,  and  could  exer- 
cise much  control  over  the  fur  trade.  The  bishop,  thanks  to  the 
prestige  and  influence  of  the  Church  in  the  colony,  had  been  an 
important  authority  even  under  company  rule,  and  now,  as  a  mem- 
ber of  the  Sovereign  Council,  he  could  wield  power  in  far  more 
than  church  affairs.  The  intendant  was  a  new  official  in  Canada. 
He  was  modelled  on  the  intendants  of  old  France,  the  agents  of 
the  central  government  in  each  province.  In  New  France  the 
intendant  looked  after  justice,  finance  and  economic  development, 
and  the  general  routine  duties  of  administration. 

This  new  form  of  government  was  stronger  than  the  old,  and 
centralized  power  in  the  three  chief  members  of  the  Superior 
Council.  Yet  it  also  made  for  friction  between  the  three  and 
quarrels  over  the  extent  of  their  authority.  Sometimes  an  able 
governor  or  intendant  might  win  the  upper  hand,  while  the  strong- 
minded  Laval,  bishop  until  his  retirement  in  1684,  in  particular 
made  his  office  a  force  to  be  reckoned  with.  Quarrels  might  arise 
between  governor  and  bishop  over  the  use  of  brandy  in  the  fur 
trade  with  the  Indians;  governor  and  intendant  might  counter- 
mand each  other's  orders.  The  whole  machinery  of  government 
might  seem  to  be  working  at  cross  purposes.  Furthermore,  the 
all-embracing  supervision  from  Versailles  could  bring  delays, 
interference  and  contradictions  to  add  to  the  problems  of  govern- 
ing New  France.  Nevertheless,  in  its  early  yeajrs  at  least,  the  new 
system  worked  fairly  well,  and  the  colony  began  to  advance  at  last, 
thanks  to  able  leaders  and  ample  royal  support. 

The  Indian  menance  was  now  dealt  with.  Over  a  thousand 
regular  French  troops  were  sent  to  Canada  in  1665,  battle-hardened 
soldiers  of  the  Carignan-Sali&res  regiment.  Accompanied  by 
colonial  militia  this  force — a  large  one  for  America  in  those  days 
— invaded  the  Iroquois  country  the  next  year  and  ravaged  the 
lands  of  the  Mohawks,  the  most  dangerous  of  the  Five  Nations. 
In  1667  the  severely  shaken  Mohawks  made  peace.  The  power  of 



the  Iroquois  was  not  yet  broken  and  there  was  no  general  peace 
for  some  years.,  but  the  Indian  threat  to  New  France  had  been 
blunted^  and  the  colony  could  proceed  to  develop  itself  with  a 
fair  degree  of  security. 

2     The  Work  of  Talon 

The  fur  trade  revived  and  New  France  began  to  prosper.  But 
it  needed  more  than  the  fur  trade  to  make  it  strong  and  more  self- 
reliant.  It  needed  to  establish  other  lines  of  enterprise,  to  increase 
farming.  Above  all  it  needed  settlers.  And  now  there  came  the 
man  to  meet  these  demands :  Jean  Talon,  the  great  intendant,  the 
brilliant  servant  of  Colbert's  imperial  designs. 

In  the  ordinary  course  of  affairs,  the  intendant  was  the  most 
important  official  in  New  France.  He  was  the  business  manager 
for  the  colony  while  the  governor  was  the  imposing  figurehead. 
The  intendant  was  the  main  link  between  Canada  and  the  central 
officialdom  in  France.  Thus  a  talented  man  in  this  position  could 
exercise  a  great  deal  of  power.  Talon  was  such  a  man.  He  had 
been  trained  in  the  royal  administration  in  France,  and,  like  his 
master  Colbert  at  home,  worked  in  the  colony  for  the  wealth  and 
power  of  the  imperial  French  monarchy.  He  spent  less  than  seven 
years  in  Canada,  between  1665  and  1672.  But  in  those  years 
Talon's  vision,  energy,  and  determination  virtually  transformed 
New  France  from  a  feeble  little  settlement  struggling  for  survival  to 
a  flourishing,  expanding  colony  that  might  be  conquered  in  future 
but  could  never  be  destroyed.  To  a  large  degree  the  vigour  and 
permanence  of  French  Canada  to-day  is  the  mark  of  the  success 
of  Talon. 

His  first  task  was  settlement.  The  crown  had  undertaken  to 
send  out  groups  of  colonists  each  year,  but  Talon  sought  in  every 
way  to  increase  the  flow.  He  managed  to  have  the  Carignan- 
Salieres  regiment  kept  in  Canada  and  settled  along  the  Richelieu 
river,  both  as  a  defensive  barrier  against  the  Iroquois  and  to  in- 
crease the  farming  population.  Free  passage  and  cheap  land  were 










offered  to  other  immigrants,  who  came  largely  from  Normandy. 
To  supply  colonists,  especially  the  soldiers,  with  wives,  Talon 
suggested  that  suitable  girls  be  found  in  the  country  villages  of 
Normandy.  Parties  of  young  women,  the  efilles  du  roi',  properly  re- 
commended and  chaperoned,  soon  began  to  arrive  at  Quebec,  where 
they  were  eagerly  sought  in  marriage  by  the  waiting  bachelors. 

Furthermore,  laws  were  put  into  effect  rewarding  early  marri- 
ages and  fining  those  who  hung  back.  Large  families  also  received 
annual  grants — the  ancestor  of  the  present  system  in  Canada  of 
government  family  allowances.  And  it  might  be  noted  that  the 
tradition  of  early  marriage  and  families  of  ten  or  more  children 
established  in  Talon's  day  still  remains  in  French  Canada.  The 
result  of  these  various  measures  could  be  seen  in  the  rising  popula- 
tion, which  had  reached  well  over  6,000  by  the  time  of  Talon's 
departure.  Meanwhile  settlement  was  spreading  out,  especially 
on  the  south  bank  of  the  St  Lawrence.  Assuredly  New  France 
had  at  last  begun  to  thrive  as  an  agricultural  settlement. 

Talon  tried  to  do  more  than  build  a  farming  colony,  however. 
He  and  Colbert  wanted  to  develop  other  resources  in  Canada,  to 
give  the  colony  something  else  to  trade  with  Europe  besides  furs, 
to  make  it  less  dependent  on  French  manufactured  goods,  and  to 
fit  it  into  the  schemes  of  mercantilist  empire.  He  sought  to  open 
mines,  to  start  an  iron  industry,  to  encourage  lumbering  and  ship- 
building. His  efforts  in  these  directions  were  none  too  successful, 
because  the  colony  lacked  the  necessary  money  and  labour  supply 
for  industry.  Still,  local  tanning  and  weaving  helped  to  reduce 
the  dependence  on  France  for  clothing;  shipbuilding  and  iron 
founding  did  finally  develop  in  the  next  century;  and  lumbering 
gradually  grew  up  along  the  edges  of  settlement.  Talon's  work 
here  was  useful.  Yet  Canada  remained  tied  to  the  fur  trade  as  its 
main  or  staple  export.  Sending  furs  to  France  paid  for  the  goods 
New  France  had  to  have.  Though  now  it  could  feed  itself  more 
fully,  a  flourishing  fur  trade  still  meant  the  difference  between 
prosperity  or  deep  depression  for  the  colony. 



Accordingly,  the  newly  invigorated  colony  soon  found  itself 
engaged  on  a  further  expansion  of  the  fur  trade,  now  that  the 
Iroquois  menace  had  been  removed — or  at  least  held  in  check  by 
the  military  power  of  the  royal  government.  In  this  expansion, 
which  carried  the  bounds  of  New  France  far  to  the  west  and  south, 
another  great  name  emerges:  that  of  the  Comte  de  Frontenac, 
governor  of  the  colony  from  1672  to  1682  and  from  1689  to  1698. 
If  Talon  had  consolidated  New  France  in  time  of  peace,  Frontenac 
carried  it  far  forward,  and  defended  it  successfully  in  time  of  war. 

3     Expansion,  Conflict  and  the  Rule  of  Frontenac 

r  The  spreading  of  French  empire  in  America  in  the  later  seven- 
te^nth  and  early  eighteenth  centuries  was  chiefly  due  to  the 
demands  of  the  fur  trade.  The  French  fur  kingdom  did  not  only 
grow  because  the  Iroquois  no  longer  barred  the  way.  It  had  to 
advance.  The  fur  supply  of  the  St  Lawrence  valley  and  lower 
Great  Lakes  was  becoming  exhausted.  In  its  usual  way,  the  fur 
trade  had  to  march  west.  Besides,  the  Iroquois  wars  had  destroyed 
the  Hurons,  who  had  been  the  chief  suppliers  of  the  French.  To 
maintain  the  flow  of  pelts  the  French  had  to  seek  contacts  them- 
selves with  tribes  further  west.  These  western  Indians,  moreover, 
were  eager  to  trade  for  white  man's  goods.  They  almost  drew  the 
fur  trade  onward. 

The  consequence  was  renewed  French  exploration  and  claims, 
followed  by  the  establishment  of  forts  and  trading  posts  deep  in 
the  interior.  In  this  way  French  America  by  1700  had  come  to 
stretch  south  to  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  north  to  James  Bay  and  west 
beyond  Lake  Superior  to  the  Lake  of  the  Woods.  Thanks  to  the 
pressing  demands  of  the  fur  trade,  so  vital  to  New  France,  and  the 
easy  access  to  the  interior  supplied  by  the  St  Lawrence  water 
system,  the  French  had  occupied  the  heart  of  North  America 
while  the  English  still  held  only  the  Atlantic  coast. 

To  the  south-west,  much  of  the  French  expansion  came  with 
finding  the  way  from  the  St  Lawrence  system  to  the  vast  Missis- 



sippi  basin.  In  1673,  Joliet  and  Marquette— a  fur  trader  and  a 
Jesuit;  typical  of  the  men  who  built  New  France—crossed  from 
Green  Bay  on  Lake  Michigan  to  the  upper  Mississippi  and  jour- 
neyed down  the  'father  of  waters'  as  far  as  the  Arkansas  river.  In 
1682  the  Sieur  de  la  Salle  went  on  further,  to  reach  the  mouth  of 
the  Mississippi. 

There  he  was  murdered  in  1687,  while  trying  to  establish  a 
French  colony;  but  one  was  successfully  founded  in  1699  by 
Pierre  le  Moyne,  Sieur  d'Iberville.  Aristocrat,  fur  trader  and 
explorer,  the  first  to  build  a  ship  that  sailed  the  upper  Great 
Lakes,  La  Salle  was  one  of  the  great  French  imperial  figures.  His 
efforts  helped  to  give  France  an  arc  of  empire  stretching  across 
America  between  the  mouths  of  the  two  greatest  water  routes  into 
the  continent.  D'Iberville  was  another  towering  figure  of  the 
French  expansion,  who  worked  for  French  empire  not  only  in  the 
far  south-west  but  in  regions  as  distant  from  there  as  Hudson 
Bay  and  Newfoundland. 

To  the  north-west,  the  French  made  Sault  Ste  Marie,  Michili- 
mackinac,  and  Green  Bay  their  chief  posts.  At  the  first-named 
they  had  claimed  the  interior  of  the  continent  with  great  display 
of  ceremony  in  1671.  From  the  Sault  on  the  upper  Great  Lakes, 
the  route  to  Montreal  and  Quebec  ran  by  way  of  the  Ottawa.  West 
from  the  Sault,  Green  Bay  opened  the  road  to  the  Mississippi. 
North  from  the  Sault  across  Lake  Superior  lay  more  excellent  fur 
country,  for  the  northern  forests  of  the  Shield  and  its  colder 
climate  produced  the  finest  furs.  Du  Lhut  penetrated  here  in 
1684,  and  five  years  later  the  French  went  on  westwards  to  the 
Lake  of  the  Woods.  But  meanwhile  two  adventurers,  Radisson 
and  Groseilliers,  had  crossed  north  to  salt  water  at  James  Bay. 
They  were  to  spell  much  trouble  for  New  France. 

Radisson  and  Groseilliers  had  first  struck  into  the  rich  fur  lands 
near  James  Bay  and  Hudson  Bay  in  the  troubled  1650'$,  during 
the  period  of  company  rule.  In  1661  they  had  been  refused  a 
licence  to  trade  unless  they  would  share  half  their  profits  with  the 



greedy  governor  of  the  day.  On  their  return  to  the  colony,  the 
two  adventurers  had  been  severely  fined  and  charged  with  heavy 
dues  to  the  Company  of  New  France.  They  carried  their  case  to 
France,  but  failing  redress  there,  turned  angrily  to  England.  Here 
their  tales  of  the  wealth  to  be  had  in  the  northern  regions  aroused 
interest  at  the  Court  of  Charles  II.  An  expedition  sent  by  sea  to 
the  Bay  in  1669  proved  most  rewarding.  In  1670  an  English  com- 
pany was  chartered  under  the  governorship  of  Prince  Rupert, 
with  a  monopoly  of  the  Hudson  Bay  trade.  It  gradually  set  up  a 
number  of  trading  posts  on  the  shores  of  Hudson  and  James  Bays. 
Thus  the  work  of  Henry  Hudson  and  Radisson  and  Groseilliers 
had  combined.  The  Hudson's  Bay  Company  was  on  the  great 
Bay,  claiming  all  the  land  that  drained  into  it,  using  Hudson's 
northern  gateway  to  the  continent,  and  competing  with  France 
for  the  western  fur  trade. 

Competition  further  stimulated  French  expansion.  There  was 
an  increasing  need  to  press  west  and  reach  the  Indians  first,  before 
the  English  rivals  did,  for  the  natives  preferred  the  cheaper 
English  trade  goods.  On  the  south,  the  English  had  replaced  the 
Dutch  fur  traders  in  the  Hudson  valley  and  the  Iroquois  had 
become  their  middlemen,  trading  to  the  west.  French  expansion 
into  the  Mississippi  valley  was  in  part  an  effort  to  get  behind  this 
English  line  of  trade.  Now  the  English  were  cutting  into  the 
French  western  fur  empire  from  the  north  as  well,  seeking  to 
drain  it  into  Hudson  Bay.  The  French  had  to  keep  the  Indians 
from  the  English  posts.  They  founded  a  French  Hudson  *Bay 
Company  to  carry  on  the  contest. 

Expansion  thus  led  to  conflict.  The  Iroquois,  moreover,  now 
tied  to  the  English,  were  again  deciding  to  war  on  tribes  that 
traded  with  the  French.  The  French  in  their  turn  wanted  to  force 
the  English  from  the  Bay  on  the  north  and  to  drive  in  their 
frontiers  to  the  south.  The  English  were  dreaming  of  capturing 
Quebec  again,  the  foundation  of  the  whole  St  Lawrence  western 
French  empire,  without  which  the  entire  structure  would  surely 



collapse.  As  spheres  of  the  expanding  fur  trade  clashed,  war  drew 
close.  It  was  fortunate  for  New  France  that  it  had  a  strong  leader 
in  its  governor,  Frontenac,  in  the  approaching  hour  of  danger. 

Frontenac,  a  veteran  soldier,  had  arrived  in  New  France  in  the 
year  of  Talon's  departure.  He  shared  Talon's  hopes  for  empire, 
carried  on  his  plans  for  explorations,  and  certainly  became  the 
new  strong  man  in  the  government.  But  he  was  essentially  a 
warrior,  not  a  statesman.  He  quarrelled  mightily  with  the  other 
officers  of  state,  his  projects  were  often  rash,  and  he  probably 
showed  too  much  concern  for  the  growth  of  the  fur  trade,  defend- 
ing the  use  of  brandy,  and  extending  the  colony  too  fast  for  its 
own  good.  At  the  same  time  he  backed  the  efforts  of  La  Salle  and 
other  explorers  and  did  a  great  deal  both  to  win  and  to  guard  the 
French  empire. 

To  guard  that  empire— indeed,  to  protect  the  fur  trade  and 
overawe  the  Iroquois — Frontenac  built  a  fort  at  the  point  where 
Lake  Ontario  runs  into  the  St  Lawrence.  At  Fort  Frontenac,  now 
Kingston,  he  held  solemn  council  with  the  Iroquois  in  1673,  with 
ceremonial  firing  of  guns  and  splendid  pageantry.  The  proud  old 
warrior,  thanks  to  a  fine  taste  for  the  dramatic,  impressed  the 
Iroquois  with  a  respect  for  him  which  they  never  forgot.  But  this 
success  of  the  'Great  Onontio',  as  they  called  him,  only  delayed 
their  outburst.  Iroquois  discontent  over  the  French  trade  with 
western  Indians  led  to  an  effort  to  destroy  these  tribes  as  the 
Hurons  had  been  destroyed.  In  1680,  as  Frontenac's  term  of 
office  was  closing,  the  Iroquois  attacked  Indian  allies  of  New 

Frontenac's  successors  were  unable  to  check  the  Iroquois.  In 
fact,  in  1689,  the  Iroquois  boldly  attacked  the  village  of  Lachine, 
near  Montreal,  and  massacred  its  inhabitants.  Then  the  Indian 
war  became  merged  with  a  European  struggle.  England  and 
France  had  finally  come  to  blows  in  Europe  in  the  War  of  the 
League  of  Augsburg.  It  had  its  echoes  in  America;  or  rather,  it 
provided  the  occasion  for  all  the  simmering  trouble  between  the 



French  and  English  possessions  on  the  continent  to  boil  into  open 
war.  Frontenac  was  at  once  recalled  to  meet  the  emergency. 

He  planned  a  daring  stroke  to  capture  New  York  by  means  of 
an  invasion  from  Canada  down  the  Hudson  valley  coupled  with  a 
French  naval  attack.  But  lack  of  sufficient  French  naval  power 
reduced  the  plan  merely  to  a  series  of  raids  on  English  frontier 
settlements.  They  were  carried  out  with  the  savagery  of  Indian 
war,  though  often  the  French  could  not  restrain  their  Indian  allies. 
Meanwhile  the  English  settlements  sought  to  reply,  and  in  their 
turn  the  colonists  tried  to  take  Quebec  by  land  and  sea.  In  1690 
the  land  force  made  a  raid  near  Montreal,  and  the  sea  force  sailed 
up  to  Quebec.  But  Frontenac's  bold  front  and  the  cannon  fire 
from  ramparts  high  on  Cape  Diamond  turned  them  away  dis- 
heartened. New  France  had  been  saved  from  the  English.  Now 
Frontenac  turned  to  the  Iroquois.  Carrying  the  war  into  their 
own  country  he  struck  them  hard  and  repeatedly.  The  grim  old 
campaigner  died  in  1698  at  Quebec,  before  the  fighting  was  over. 
Nevertheless  he  had  lived  to  see  the  Iroquois  seriously  weakened. 
Peace  between  England  and  France  in  1697  had  left  them  fighting 
a  lone  battle,  and  in  1701  they  came  to  terms,  never  again  to  be  a 
threat  to  New  France  in  themselves  alone. 

In  Hudson  Bay,  meanwhile,  the  French  led  by  d'Iberville  had 
taken  most  of  the  English  posts.  The  Hudson's  Bay  Company 
barely  kept  a  foothold.  Moreover,  the  French  had  also  laid  waste 
English  settlements  in  Newfoundland,  By  the  close  of  the  seven- 
teenth century,  therefore,  it  seemed  that  France  had  saved  its 
enlarged  American  empire  during  the  struggle,  and  could  even 
look  forward  to  further  imperial  growth.  To  a  considerable  extent 
Frontenac  had  left  his  mark  on  these  years  of  expansion  and  con- 
flict, as  Talon  had  on  the  previous  work  of  consolidating  New 
France.  Only  in  the  region  of  Acadia  had  there  been  real  defeat. 
But  Acadia  had  always  been  a  backward  colony. 


4    Acadia:  a  Backward  Colony 

While  the  main  French  possession  in  America  centred  on  the 
St  Lawrence  had  faced  a  difficult  career  of  ups  and  downs  during 
the  seventeenth  century,  the  settlements  in  Acadia,  the  Atlantic 
maritime  region,  had  had  a  much  more  stormy  time.  From  the 
day  in  1605  when  Port  Royal  was  founded,  Acadia  had  changed 
hands  several  times,  from  French  to  English  and  back  again,  and 
there  had  been  quarrels  quite  as  bitter  between  rival  French 
leaders.  Nevertheless  the  colony  had  managed  to  remain  in  being, 
though  it  had  grown  very  slowly. 

From  the  start  Acadia  had  been  neglected.  It  lay  between  the 
main  French  area  of  interest  on  the  St  Lawrence  and  the  English 
on  the  coast  to  the  south.  France  showed  it  little  concern.  Yet 
Acadia  was  also  in  an  exposed  position  between  the  chief  French 
and  English  holdings.  Because  of  this,  and  its  own  weakness,  it 
was  readily  captured  by  the  English  in  the  event  of  a  war,  or 
sometimes  even  without  one.  Thus  it  was  that  in  1613,  in  time  of 
peace,  an  expedition  by  sea  from  the  new  English  colony  in 
Virginia  took  the  settlement  at  Port  Royal,  on  the  grounds  that 
the  English  claim  in  America  extended  that  far  up  the  coast. 

The  French  were  removed  and  Acadia  was  left  empty,  except 
for  a  few  fishermen  and  fur  traders.  In  1621  Sir  William  Alex- 
ander, a  Scotsman,  secured  a  grant  to  all  the  lands  of  Acadia — the 
present  three  Maritime  provinces — under  the  name  of  Nova 
Scotia.  Little  remains  from  this  except  the  name  and  Nova 
Scotia's  own  flag,  which  is  still  flown.  A  new  colony  at  Port 
Royal,  begun  in  1628,  was  ended  when  the  treaty  of  1632  gave 
Acadia  as  well  as  Quebec  back  to  France.  The  following  years 
looked  bright  at  last,  as  two  hundred  colonists  from  France  re- 
established Port  Royal.  But  this  was  still  a  private  settlement,  not 
a  royal  colony,  and  a  quarrel  soon  broke  out  between  two  rival 
claimants  to  Acadia  that  turned  to  virtual  civil  war  around  the 
Bay  of  Fundy. 

The  struggles  of  the  rivals,  La  Tour  and  D'Aulnay,  finally 



ended  with  the  latter's  death  in  1650.  La  Tour  secured  the 
governorship  of  Acadia.  Now,  however,  the  English  stepped  in 
again,  still  without  a  declaration  of  war.  This  time  New  England 
forces  captured  Port  Royal,  and  from  1654  to  1667  Acadia  was  in 
English  hands.  Returned  once  more  to  France,  Acadia  had  reason 
to  hope  that  royal  government  would  at  last  bring  it  aid,  as  it  had 
New  France. 

Talon,  indeed,  did  want  to  develop  the  Acadian  outpost  and 
to  tie  it  into  an  imperial  trade  with  Quebec  and  the  French  West 
Indies.  Yet  the  French  crown  would  do  no  more  than  send  out  a 
few  settlers.  Acadia  was  again  left  on  its  own.  Accordingly,  in 
1690,  during  the  War  of  the  League  of  Augsburg,  Port  Royal  fell 
once  more  an  easy  prey  to  attack  from  New  England — only  to  be 
given  back  to  France  in  the  peace  of  1697.  It  seemed  that  France 
did  not  care  enough  to  defend  Acadia,  nor  England  to  keep  it 
when  conquered.  Yet  it  is  also  true  that  both  countries,  feeling 
other  areas  in  America  were  more  vital,  were  devoting  their 
energy  and  attention  to  these,  and  not  to  the  Acadian  lands 
beside  the  Atlantic. 

Nevertheless,  Acadia  in  the  later  seventeenth  century  managed 
to  develop  on  its  own.  The  rate  of  growth  was  slow,  but  consider- 
ing the  conquests  and  lack  of  help,  that  was  hardly  surprising.  By 
1698  there  were  over  a  thousand  colonists,  chiefly  farmers,  spread 
along  the  fertile  tidal  flats  and  marshlands  at  the  head  of  the  Bay 
of  Fundy  and  in  the  Annapolis  valley.  The  soil  was  good  and 
farming  easy.  Thus  there  emerged  a  quiet  but  sturdy  people,  the 
Acadians,  living  a  simple  country  life,  despite  the  momentary  up- 
heavals of  war.  Content  in  their  isolation,  philosophic  about 
other  people's  quarrels,  they  did  not  reckon  on  the  great  conflict 
of  empires  that  would  one  day  dislodge  them  from  their  'backward' 


THE  LIFE  OF  NEW  FRANCE,  1663-1760 

I    The  Structure  of  Society 

In  the  time  of  New  France,  and  particularly  after  1663  when 
the  colony  began  to  thrive,  a  distinctive  way  of  life  was  worked 
out  in  Canada.  It  still  leaves  its  mark  on  French  Canada  to-day. 
A  glance  at  the  society  of  New  France  not  only  reveals  the  world 
of  the  seventeenth-century  colonists  but  throws  light  on  the  life 
and  outlook  of  the  modern  French  Canadians,  who  form  nearly 
one-third  of  the  present  Canadian  population. 

To  begin  with,  life  in  New  France  was  fashioned  on  authorit- 
arian lines :  that  is,  power  was  concentrated  at  the  top  of  society, 
and  the  mass  of  the  colonists  were  used  to  obeying  authority,  not 
to  governing  their  own  lives.  This  did  not  necessarily  mean  an 
attitude  of  dependence  or  meek  docility.  The  people  of  New 
France  showed  their  sturdy  self-reliance  in  other  ways.  Yet  in 
matters  of  religion,  government,  and  relations  between  classes  of 
people,  French  Canada  readily  accepted  direction  from  above. 
There  was  little  of  the  demand  for  religious  independence  and 
self-government,  or  the  levelling  of  social  distinctions  which  gener- 
ally marked  the  English  colonies  to  the  south.  In  these  unruly 
provinces  the  trend  was  toward  democracy  and  the  emphasis  was 
on  liberty.  New  France  instead  put  its  faith  in  ordered  authority, 
not  disorderly  freedom,  and  stressed  duties,  not  rights. 

The  forms  of  government  helped  shape  this  attitude  in  New 
France.  All  power  depended  finally  on  the  King.  He  and  his 
ministers  at  Versailles  supervised  even  the  minor  details  of  govern- 
ment in  the  colony,  and  little  could  be  done  without  their  direc- 
tion. Their  control  might  have  been  well-intentioned,  kindly,  or 
even  wise;  but  it  was  absolute.  This  was  paternal  absolutism  at  its 
best  and  worst  It  developed  in  New  France  the  habit  of  looking 


THE  LIFE   OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1663-1760 

beyond  herself  for  guidance  and  leadership.  Similarly,  the  govern- 
ment within  New  France  was  absolute  and  paternal  as  far  as  the 
inhabitants  were  concerned.  Except  for  the  popularly  chosen  cap- 
tains of  militia  in  each  parish,  there  were  no  agencies  of  local  self- 
government,  nor  elected  bodies  voicing  public  opinion.  A  few 
attempts  to  include  elected  representatives  in  the  councils  of 
government  were  soon  cut  short.  New  France  never  learned  to 
manage  its  own  affairs — or  even  to  ask  to  do  so. 

The  society  of  French  Canada  was  also  hierarchical  in  structure : 
it  was  graded  into  distinctly  separate  upper  and  lower  layers.  The 
bulk  of  the  colonists,  or  habitants,  were  farmers  and  formed  the 
broad  lower  order.  On  the  upper  levels  were  the  government 
officials,  the  large  landholders,  or  seigneurs,  and  the  principal 
clergy.  In  between  the  two  main  groups  the  wealthy  fur-trade 
merchants  and  the  ordinary  fur  traders  did,  in  a  sense,  represent 
a  commercial  or  middle  class.  In  reality,  however,  New  France 
had  virtually  no  middle  class.  The  big  fur  merchants  tended  to  be 
closely  linked  with  the  government  officials;  and  since  there  was 
little  commerce  in  the  colony  apart  from  the  fur  trade,  and  no 
industry  to  speak  of,  there  were  very  few  tradesmen  and  only  a 
handful  of  artisans.  They  did  not  form  an  effective  middle  class. 

As  for  the  ordinary  fur  trader,  he  hardly  belonged  to  the  colony 
at  all.  His  world  lay  far  beyond  in  the  forest.  He  visited  the  settled 
areas  only  occasionally  to  obtain  his  earnings,  spent  his  money  on 
a  wild  spree,  and  disappeared  again  into  the  woods.  The  life  of  the 
independent  fur  trader,  the  coureur  de  bois,  seemed  glamorous  and 
free  (actually  it  might  be  bitterly  hard)  and  it  attracted  many  reck- 
less spirits  away  from  the  farmlands.  But,  far  from  the  fur  trader 
forming  a  real  part  of  the  society  of  the  colony,  he  almost  repre- 
sented a  minus  quantity,  a  subtraction  from  it. 

Accordingly,  with  hardly  any  middle  class  between  upper  and 
lower  orders  in  French  Canada,  the  division  in  society  was  clear- 
cut,  indeed  Furthermore,  the  system  of  land-holding  established 
definite  social  distinctions.  Land  was  held  according  to  the  seig- 


THE  LIFE  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1663-1760 

neurial  system.  It  was  granted  in  large  blocks  to  the  seigneurs, 
who  rented  it  in  smaller  holdings  to  the  habitant  farmers.  The 
habitants  paid  their  seigneur  various  forms  of  rent  and  performed 
certain  services  for  him.  The  result  was  to  create  two  groups  on 
the  land :  the  seigneurs,  who  were  landlords  with  special  privileges 
and  authority,  and  the  habitants,  tenant  farmers,  who  owed  not 
only  rent  and  services  but  honour  and  respect  as  well.  In  the 
English  colonies,  on  the  other  hand,  while  there  might  be  large 
and  small  farmers,  and  sometimes  landlords  and  tenants,  there 
were  not  the  same  class  divisions  fixed  by  law,  and  most  farmers 
owned  their  own  land. 

The  seigneurial  system,  therefore,  was  a  major  factor  in  making 
the  society  of  New  France  authoritarian  and  hierarchical  in  charac- 
ter. It  entered  widely  into  the  life  of  the  colony,  and  so  deserves 
more  investigation. 

2     The  Seigneurial  System 

The  seigneurial  system  in  New  France  represented  the  importa- 
tion of  feudalism  into  America.  Feudalism  was  dead  in  England 
by  the  seventeenth  century,  but  particularly  on  the  lower,  or 
seigneurial,  level  it  was  very  much  alive  in  France;  and  survived, 
indeed,  until  the  French  Revolution.  It  was  natural  that  the 
French  should  bring  their  prevailing  mode  of  holding  land  with 
them  to  Canada.  Besides,  feudalism  had  been  a  system  concerned 
with  government  and  defence  as  well  as  land,  and  it  seemed  well 
suited  to  meet  the  problems  of  building  a  colony  in  the  North 
American  wilderness. 

According  to  the  workings  of  feudalism,  the  lord  owed  duties 
of  government  and  military  leadership  to  his  tenants,  and  they 
owed  obedience  and  armed  support  to  him.  Hence  the  seigneurs 
in  Canada  might  serve  as  a  military  order,  their  holdings,,  or  seig- 
neuries,  as  units  of  local  government  or  defence.  Furthermore, 
the  seigneurial  system  provided  a  means  of  settling  the  land.  Large 
tracts  were  granted  to  seigneurs  on  condition  that  they  brought 


THE   LIFE  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1663-1760 

out  settlers,  who  would  be  their  tenants,  to  clear  and  develop  these 
grants.  Thus  block  by  block,  in  orderly  fashion,  New  France 
would  be  built  up  by  the  seigneurial  system.  Unfortunately  it  did 
not  work  out  as  planned. 

Seigneuries  were  early  granted  under  company  rule,  but  not 
many  of  them  were  taken  up.  Court  favourites  and  land  specu- 
lators acquired  large  amounts  of  land  and  either  failed  to  bring 
out  settlers  or  did  not  try,  preferring  to  hold  their  large  pieces  of 
wilderness  for  sale  to  others  more  honest,  or  more  foolish,  in  their 
purposes.  Seigneuries  granted  to  religious  orders  tended  more 
usually  to  be  taken  up,  populated,  and  developed;  yet  in  general 
the  seigneurial  system  failed  as  a  means  of  bringing  about  private 

The  system  was  maintained  under  royal  government,  but  the 
Seigneuries  only  really  developed  while  the  crown  itself  was  bring- 
ing out  colonists  after  1663.  Then,  indeed,  the  seigneurs'  agents 
would  meet  the  ships  arriving  at  Quebec  to  compete  with  each 
other  to  secure  settlers.  While  the  tide  of  immigration  was  running 
to  populate  New  France,  so,  too,  many  Seigneuries  were  popu- 
lated. But  when  the  crown  turned  away  much  of  its  interest 
towards  the  end  of  the  seventeenth  century,  because  of  wars  in 
Europe,  the  immigrant  stream  again  slowed  to  a  trickle.  It  re- 
mained only  a  trickle  during  the  eighteenth  century  until  the  fall 
of  New  France,  which  in  the  meantime  grew  chiefly  through  its 
own  high  birthrate.  The  seigneurs  again  failed  to  bring  many 
new  immigrants,  although  the  seigneurial  system  remained  in  be- 
ing, and  lasted,  in  fact,  until  the  middle  of  the  nineteenth  century. 

The  Seigneuries  did  serve,  however,  as  units  of  local  government 
and  community  life;  and  their  role  in  defence  was  shown  by  the 
establishment  of  military  Seigneuries  along  the  Richelieu,  as  a 
barrier  to  the  Iroquois,  where  the  tenants,  who  were  ex-soldiers, 
still  owed  military  service.  Much  of  the  life  of  French  Canada  was 
that  of  the  seigneury.  It  was  the  habitant's  little  world. 

Nor  were  the  conditions  of  seigneurialism  really  burdensome 


THE  LIFE  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1663-1760 

to  him.  The  system  was  far  less  oppressive  in  Canada  than  in 
France.  With  the  wilds  close  at  hand,  promising  freedom  and  for- 
tune in  the  far  trade,  and  with  the  need  always  to  gain  farmers.,  it 
would  not  have  been  possible  to  place  heavy  obligations  on  the 
habitants.  They  owed  corvees,  the  obligation  to  work  a  few  days 
a  year  on  the  land  the  seigneur  kept  for  his  own  farm;  they  had  to 
pay  rent  in  the  form  of  cens  et  rentes.,  the  former  a  small  annual 
payment  in  money,  the  latter  often  paid  in  produce;  and  when 
land  was  sold  or  passed  on  by  other  than  direct  inheritance  sums 
called  lods  et  ventes  were  due.  But  all  these  obligations  were  slight; 
and  as  for  the  banalite,  the  requirement  to  use  the  lord's  mill  for 
grinding  grain,  often  the  expense  of  building  the  mill  far  out- 
weighed the  tolls  that  were  charged. 

Furthermore,  relations  between  habitant  and  seigneur  were  far 
closer  and  more  friendly  than  in  Old  France.  After  all,  both  were 
working  together  against  a  wilderness.  Though  larger,  the  seig- 
neur's house  might  not  be  more  comfortable  than  the  habitant's; 
it  was  no  ancient  castle  or  luxurious  palace.  The  seigneur  himself 
was  not  usually  of  an  old  noble  family.  He  might  often  have 
sprung  from  the  trading  classes.  The  habitant  was  better  off,  the 
seigneur  not  as  well  off  as  their  counterparts  in  France.  More- 
over, the  conditions  of  pioneer  life  in  America  produced  some  of 
the  open,  independent  atmosphere  that  was  found  on  the  frontiers 
in  the  English  colonies.  The  habitant  was  no  downtrodden  pea- 
sant but  a  self-sufficient,  self-respecting  farmer.  In  his  prosperity, 
he  was  not  even  a  great  distance  from  the  seigneur  in  wealth. 

Nevertheless,  if  relations  were  good  and  no  heavy  burden  of 
dues  came  between  habitant  and  seigneur,  there  was  still  a  broad 
distance  of  dignity  and  privilege  to  separate  them.  The  seigneur 
was  shown  much  respect.  His  word  carried  weight  throughout 
the  countryside.  And  seigneurialism  embraced  the  countryside  in 
what  was,  above  all,  a  farming  community,  Hence  that  system 
played  so  large  a  part  in  shaping  the  outlook  of  the  French  colo- 
nists. But  quite  as  important  was  the  part  played  by  the  Church. 


THE  LIFE   OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1663-1760 

3    The  Role  of  the  Church 

One  of  the  most  significant  features  of  New  France  was  that  it 
was  solidly  Catholic.  It  was  orthodox:  there  were  no  heretics  or 
questioners  of  the  Catholic  faith  in  the  colony.  Once,  indeed, 
there  had  been  Protestants  in  French  Canada.  The  Huguenots, 
a  Protestant  minority  in  Catholic  France,  had  been  specially  strong 
in  western  French  seaports,  and  from  there  had  entered  actively 
into  the  fur  trade  of  the  St  Lawrence  during  the  later  sixteenth  and 
early  seventeenth  centuries.  But  the  earnestly  Catholic  Champlain 
had  urged  that  the  new  land  be  kept  free  from  heresy,  and  the 
king's  minister,  Cardinal  Richelieu,  had  listened.  He  wanted  no 
such  difficulties  with  Huguenots  in  New  France  as  the  crown  was 
facing  in  Old.  He  ordered  that  the  colony  should  admit  Catholics 
only;  and  henceforth  New  France  was  a  Catholic  preserve,  its 
people  faithful  to  that  Church. 

Furthermore,  while  New  France  was  being  built  in  the  seven- 
teenth century,  a  high  tide  of  religious  enthusiasm  was  running 
in  the  Catholic  Church.  Devoted  priests,  nuns  and  missionaries 
came  to  Canada  and  entered  into  the  task  of  shaping  New  France, 
They  left  their  mark  on  the  colony.  Its  Catholicism  was  more 
devout  and  the  power  of  the  Church  greater  than  in  Old  France. 
Thanks  both  to  the  energy  and  determination  of  the  religious 
leaders,  and  to  their  early  hold  in  New  France,  the,  Church  came 
to  occupy  a  place  of  great  authority  in  the  colony.  Much  of  that 
authority  was  unquestioned. 

The  Church's  religious  teachings,  indeed,  were  unquestioned  in 
this  Catholic  domain.  But  its  hold  extended  beyond  religion  to 
matters  of  government,  to  education,  and  to  the  land.  With  regard 
to  government,  the  zeal  and  organization  of  the  Jesuits  had  given 
them  almost  the  power  to  rule  the  colony  in  the  days  of  weak 
company  control.  Laval,  the  Jesuit's  ally,  bishop  in  New  France 
from  1659  to  1688,  maintained  the  dominant  place  of  the  Church 
even  when  strong  royal  government  was  introduced.  Far  from 
letting  the  Church  fall  under  the  power  of  the  state,  he  insisted 


THE  LIFE   OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1663-1760 

on  a  large  share  in  shaping  policies  of  government.  Overcoming 
Gallican  opposition,  he  built  a  strongly  ultramontane  Church  in 
New  France. 

An  ultramontane  Catholic  Church  was  one  that  stressed  abso- 
lute obedience  to  the  Pope  at  Rome,  denying  the  power  of  any 
national  state  to  control  or  limit  the  Church.  In  France,  however, 
the  state  had  acquired  considerable  power  over  the  clergy,  and  a 
kind  of  national  Catholic  Church  had  emerged.  Supporters  of 
such  a  Church,  that  was  limited  by  the  power  of  the  state — and 
certainly  did  not  direct  policies  of  government — were  known  as 
Gallicans  in  France. 

But  thanks  largely  to  the  Jesuits  and  Laval,  Gallicanism  did 
not  become  established  in  Canada.  The  Church  there  turned  its 
eyes  only  to  Rome,  and  maintained  considerable  influence  over 
policies  of  government.  French  Canada  became  and  remained  an 
ultramontane  citadel.  After  Laval,  quarrels  continued  in  the 
government  of  the  colony  as  the  claims  of  church  and  state  to 
control  clashed  repeatedly.  By  the  eighteenth  century  a  com- 
promise was  gradually  reached.  In  fact,  the  Church  ceased  to 
press  for  as  much  influence  in  state  affairs.  Nevertheless,  although 
in  the  latter  days  of  New  France  the  state  was  in  the  ascendant, 
the  Church  was  still  in  a  strong  position.  Not  only  was  its  reli- 
gious hold  unchallenged,  but  its  share  in  government  remained, 
because  the  bishop  continued  to  be  one  of  the  three  chief  officials 
in  the  Superior  Council  that  ruled  the  colony. 

The  Church  also  exercised  power  over  men's  minds  through 
controlling  teaching  and  the  institutions  of  learning.  The  close 
connection  between  religion  and  education  was,  of  course,  a  deep- 
rooted  Catholic  idea,  and  it  was  not  surprising  that  the  Church, 
not  the  state,  should  found  and  direct  schools  in  New  France. 
Because  of  the  wholly  orthodox  Catholic  atmosphere  in  the  colony, 
however,  there  was  no  development  of  learning  apart  from  the 
Church,  as  in  Old  France.  There  was  no  secular  education,  no 
attempt  to  inquire  into  and  certainly  no  attempt  to  criticize  the 


THE  LIFE  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1663-1760 

authority  of  Church  teachings.  The  Church,  moreover,  carefully 
censored  thought  and  reading  for  laymen,  and  no  newspapers 
or  other  organs  of  public  opinion  developed.  Once  more  this  air  of 
quiet  and  obedience  to  authority  was  very  different  from  the  free 
and  lively  mental  climate  of  the  English  colonies  to  the  south.  The 
ordinary  Canadian  habitant  was  cheerfully  uninformed,  though 
simple,  straightforward,  and  contented. 

Yet  the  ignorance  among  the  masses  was  no  worse  than  in  many 
other  countries  of  the  age.  And  certainly  the  Church  laboured 
hard  to  reduce  it.  Religious  orders  sought  to  establish  schools  as 
well  as  missions  and  hospitals,  and  several  famous  schools  were 
founded  that  still  endure.  The  names  of  Mother  Marie  de  Plncar- 
nation  and  Marguerite  Bourgeouys,  two  great  nuns  who  worked 
to  educate  young  girls,  will  never  be  forgotten  in  Quebec.  The 
teaching  provided,  however,  was  largely  religious  or  classical,  and 
the  lore  of  Greece  and  Rome  did  not  filter  down  to  the  ordinary 
habitants.  Still,  this  was  the  usual  form  of  education  in  the  seven- 
teenth and  eighteenth  centuries,  and  there  was  no  belief  in  that 
time  in  general  popular  education. 

Hence  ignorance  in  New  France  did  not  follow  from  the  Church's 
control  of  education.  The  nature  of  that  education,  however, 
theoretical  and  classical  rather  than  practical  or  scientific,  re- 
mained firmly  fixed  in  French  Canada,  to  affect  the  thinking  and 
outlook  of  its  people  for  centuries  thereafter. 

One  of  the  chief  teaching  institutions  founded  by  the  Church 
was  the  Seminary  at  Quebec,  which  has  come  down  to  the  present 
in  Laval  University.  Laval  himself  began  it  in  1663,  to  train 
Canadians  for  the  priesthood.  The  religious  orders  had  their 
teachers  or  their  missionaries  to  the  Indians,  but  there  was  a  need 
for  ordinary  parish  priests  among  the  colonists.  A  native  Canadian 
parish  clergy  was  thus  built  up.  They  came  to  have  great  influence 
among  the  habitants.  A  seigneury  would  constitute  a  parish  of 
the  Church  as  well,  though  as  population  increased  it  might  be 
divided  into  several  parishes.  In  each  parish  the  priest  or  cur6 


THE  LIFE  OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1663-1760 

became  the  representative  of  the  great  and  powerful  Church  and, 
at  the  same  time,  the  beloved  leader  of  his  flock :  a  man  of  Canadian 
background  who  knew  their  problems — their  friend,  adviser  and 
protector.  As  a  result,  the  ties  between  the  people  and  their 
Church  were  knit  even  tighter. 

The  parish  priests,  consequently,  extended  the  Church's  hold 
over  the  land.  But  it  grew  in  other  ways  as  well.  As  was  men- 
tioned, seigneuries  were  often  granted  to  religious  orders,  and 
generally  these  clerics  made  the  best  landlords,  developing  their 
holdings  and  watching  carefully  over  their  tenants.  As  more  land 
grants  were  made,  the  clergy  came  finally  to  be  landlord  for  about 
half  the  population,  which  again  added  greatly  to  the  power  of  the 
Church  in  New  France.  This  meant  wealth,  besides,  for  a  large 
share  of  the  total  seigneurial  dues  would  go  to  the  clergy.  Further- 
more, in  order  to  support  the  parish  priests,  tithes  were  established 
throughout  the  colony  by  royal  order  in  1663.  A  fraction  of  the 
habitant's  income  from  his  crops  henceforth  belonged  to  the 
Church  in  each  parish.  Yet  for  all  the  colonists'  Catholicism,  pro- 
tests were  made  at  the  amount  of  the  tithe,  and  it  was  finally 
reduced  to  one-twenty-sixth  of  the  value  of  the  grain  crop.  With 
this  tithe,  seigneurial  dues  as  well  on  much  of  the  land,  and  royal 
subsidies  also,  the  Church  was  made  financially  secure. 

It  should  be  abundantly  plain  how  large  a  part  the  Church 
played  in  New  France.  Besides  reigning  over  the  religion  of  a 
staunchly  Catholic  colony,  it  had  power  over  government,  educa- 
tion, and  the  life  of  the  countryside.  Like  the  seigneurial  system 
it  helped  shape  the  society  of  New  France,  and  it  was  thoroughly 
authoritarian  and  hierarchical  in  character.  The  Church  entered 
deeply  into  the  ordinary  life  of  the  people.  But  it  remains  to  see 
just  what  ordinary  life  was  like. 

4  The  Life  of  the  People 

How  did  the  inhabitants  of  New  France  live?  They  knew  three 
kinds  of  life:  that  of  the  forests,  that  of  the  town,  and  that  of  the 


THE  LIFE  OF  NEW  FRANCE,    1663-1760 

countryside.  The  life  of  the  forests  was  the  fur  trader's,  and  he 
lived  mainly  as  the  Indians  had  done,  beyond  the  settlements, 
outside  white  civilization.  He  travelled  by  canoe  and  snowshoe, 
wore  deerskin  and  moccasins,  slept  in  bark  shelters  or  bough- 
covered  lean-tos.  Often  he  lived  with  the  Indians,  and  raised  a 
half-breed  family.  His  life  was  almost  a  savage  one,  and  but  for, 
say,  a  European  shirt  or  hat  and  an  inexhaustible  and  un-Indian 
cheeriness,  might  have  been  taken  for  a  native. 

As  fur-trading  posts  grew  up  in  the  interior,  with  log  houses  and 
tilled  fields  around  them  to  supply  the  post,  the  fur  trader  might 
see  a  few  traces  of  European  civilization  in  his  world.  But  gene- 
rally, except  for  his  yearly  trip  to  Montreal  for  a  grand  orgy,  he 
spent  a  lonely  life  trapping  in  the  dark  forest  or  paddling  mile  on 
mile  down  empty  sunlit  rivers.  But  as  he  journeyed,  the  folk  songs 
of  his  childhood  kept  him  company,  and  he  freely  added  to  them. 
The  songs  of  the  French  fur  traders  have  come  down  across  the 
years,  telling  of  the  warm  good  humour,  dauntless  will  and  simple 
faith  of  the  men  of  the  forests. 

These  were  the  men  who  spread  the  bounds  of  New  France, 
explored  the  unknown,  and  gathered  the  wealth  of  furs  so  vital  to 
the  very  existence  of  the  colony.  They  were  the  roamers  of  the 
woods,  the  coureurs-de-bois,  often  unlicensed  traders,  frowned  on 
by  the  state  for  trading  illegally,  and  by  the  Church  for  their  pagan 
wildness  and  brandy-drinking.  In  many  ways  they  were  a  drain 
on  New  France,  a  waste  of  settlers  and  a  source  of  vice  and  im- 
morality. And  yet  they  were  necessary.  On  their  energy,  daring 
and  knowledge  of  the  Indians  depended  the  success  of  the  far- 
flung  fur  trade  in  the  growing  competition  with  the  English.  The 
authorities  might  not  like  them — this  one  group  of  Canadians 
who  defied  authority — but  the  fate  of  New  France  was  in  their 

In  total  contrast  to  the  life  of  the  vast  wilderness  was  that  of  the 
little  towns  of  New  France,  nestled  beside  the  broad  St  Lawrence. 
Montreal,  Three  Rivers,  and  Quebec  were  the  only  real  towns, 


THE   LIFE   OF   NEW  FRANCE,    1663-1760 

and  the  main  centre  of  urban  life  was  in  the  capital.  Here  the 
government  officials,  the  rich  merchants,  and  the  seigneurs  in 
town  from  their  estates  carried  on  a  gay  and  colourful  social  life: 
a  far-off  colonial  miniature  of  the  great  doings  of  Versailles. 
Courtly  balls  with  cavaliers  in  lace  and  plumes  were  held  in  the 
candle-lit  Chateau  St  Louis,  the  governor's  residence  on  the 
heights  at  Quebec.  In  the  town  below,  a  jumbled  pile  of  little 
stone  houses  and  cobbled  streets,  the  busy  market  place  or  the 
dockside  were  centres  of  activity. 

Here,  until  the  river  froze,  the  ships  came  in  from  France  with 
the  cargoes  the  colony  must  have  to  exist,  or  they  might  arrive 
with  tropical  goods  from  the  French  West  Indies.  The  furs  that 
paid  for  the  colony  were  loaded  for  France;  but  sometimes  most 
of  the  colony's  money  also  was  drained  out  to  meet  the  costs.  Then 
indeed,  one  intendent  hit  on  the  device  of  dividing  playing-cards 
in  four,  signing  them,  and  circulating  them  within  New  France  as 
money  to  meet  the  problem  of  shortage. 

But  while  Quebec  bustled  with  the  affairs  of  government  or  the 
sea  trade,  while  guns  boomed  as  the  great  brigades  of  canoes 
arrived  at  Montreal  laden  with  furs  from  the  west,  or  the  bells  of 
churches,  convents,  and  seminaries  clanged  over  the  towns,  the 
real  life  of  the  colony  was  lived  in  the  quiet,  peaceful  countryside. 
There,  spread  out  along  the  banks  of  the  St  Lawrence  like  an  end- 
less village  street,  were  the  little  whitewashed  cottages  of  the  habi- 
tants, the  fields  behind  them,  and  rising  not  far  beyond,  the  dark 
green  wall  of  the  forest. 

The  sparkling  St  Lawrence  was  the  main  highway  of  New 
France,  whether  by  boat  in  the  summer  or  by  sleigh  when  frozen 
in  the  winter.  Hence  the  cottages  clustered  beside  it.  Moreover, 
the  practice  of  dividing  land  equally  among  the  family's  sons, 
giving  each  a  piece  of  river  frontage,  multiplied  the  houses  along 
the  river.  It  made  for  long  narrow  strip-farms,  inconvenient  to 
work;  but  during  the  life  of  New  France  there  was  still  enough 
room  along  the  shores,  and  on  the  whole  the  population  had  not 


THE  LIFE   OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1663-1760 

yet  been  forced  to  move  into  the  back  lots  to  open  up  lands  away 
from  the  water. 

The  life  of  the  habitant  was  thus  a  very  social  one.  He  was  no 
lonely  bush  farmer  but  a  member  of  a  compact  village  community, 
further  held  together  by  the  ties  of  his  parish  and  his  seigneury. 
In  general,  his  was  a  good  life.  The  land  was  easy  to  farm  and  his 
burdens  light.  He  was  not  rich,  but  he  had  enough  to  keep  him- 
self— good  bread,  milk  and  vegetables,  game  and  fish  from  the 
forest  and  river,  sugar  from  his  maple  trees,  and  a  tobacco  patch 
on  which  to  raise  the  rank  'tabac  Canadien'. 

He  dressed  in  warm  homespun,  tied  with  the  long  woollen  sash, 
la  ceinturefleche,  a  woollen  cap  or  toque  on  his  head.  The  winters 
were  long,  but  his  steep-roofed,  thick-walled  house  was  warm, 
with  ample  supplies  of  wood  roaring  in  the  wide  hearth.  And 
winter  was  almost  the  best  time  of  year.  There  were  sleighing 
parties  over  the  crisp  snow,  under  an  almost  unbearably  blue  sky; 
there  was  horse-racing  on  the  river  ice.  Far  better  off  than  the 
peasant  of  Old  France,  honouring  his  king,  his  cure  and  his  seig- 
neur, but  sure  of  his  own  worth,  the  habitant  was  a  sturdy  and 
solid  citizen.  He  was  truly  the  backbone  of  New  France,  and  of 
the  province  of  Quebec  in  the  era  that  followed. 

5     The  Life  of  New  France  and  Modern  French  Canada 

New  France  was  authoritarian,  hierarchical,  firmly  Catholic. 
The  mass  of  its  people  were  simple  farmers,  accepting  their  place 
in  society  and  obeying  those  set  over  them.  How  does  this  influ- 
ence modern  French  Canada?  To-day  the  province  of  Quebec  still 
has  its  quiet  villages  of  whitewashed  houses,  the  silver  spires  of 
Catholic  churches  soaring  over  them.  Yet  it  is  also  a  great  indus- 
trial province,  full  of  noisy  cities  and  throngs  of  people  whose  life 
is  far  away  from  the  farm.  Nevertheless,  many  of  the  habits  and 
ideas  formed  in  an  earlier  age  can  still  be  seen. 

French  Canada  is  still  as  firmly  Catholic.  There  have  been 
anti-clerical  movements;  but  these,  indeed,  only  reflect  the  very 


THE   LIFE   OF   NEW   FRANCE.,    1663-1760 

power  of  the  Church,  and  have  often  been  made  by  Catholics  who 
feel  that  the  clergy  has  had  too  much  influence  in  matters  apart 
from  religion.  In  the  Catholic  religion,  in  fact,  French  Canada 
has  found  a  unifying  force.  Loyalty  to  Catholicism  has  become 
tied  with  the  very  idea  of  remaining  French  Canadian.  The 
Church  did  much  to  shape  French  Canada.  The  descendants  of 
New  France  have  sought  to  keep  French  Canada  strong  by  hold- 
ing to  the  faith. 

The  authoritarian  and  hierarchical  sides  of  French  Canadian 
society  have  declined  far  more.  French  Canadians  took  readily 
to  the  development  of  democracy  and  self-government  in  later 
periods,  and  social  distinctions  largely  disappeared  with  the  end 
of  the  seigneurial  system.  Yet  still  the  background  of  New  France 
comes  out.  French  Canadians  continue  to  show  a  greater  respect 
for  authority  in  government  and  thought,  and  still  stress  man's 
responsibilities  rather  than  his  freedoms.  It  is  healthy,  no  doubt, 
for  a  country  to  have  both  sides  stressed,  and  French  Canada 
strengthens  the  Canadian  nation  to-day  with  its  order  and  stabi- 

But  finally,  the  period  of  New  France  really  built  up  in  Canada 
a  people  and  a  way  of  life  that  were  distinctive  in  character.  These 
people  were  not  French  any  longer.  They  were  North  Americans, 
though  not  like  the  English  Americans  to  the  south.  They  were 
Canadians.  More  than  distance  by  sea  cut  them  off  from  France. 
They  kept  alive  the  old  Catholic  zeal  when  eighteenth-century 
France  turned  critical.  Furthermore,  after  1700  few  immigrants 
came  from  the  motherland  and  the  French  Canadians  grew  by 
themselves.  By  1700  there  were  about  15,000  of  them.  By  the 
conquest  in  1760  there  were  over  60,000.  The  figure  was  small 
compared  to  the  English  colonies'  million  and  a  half;  but  a  people 
that  had  grown  like  this  on  its  own  was  never  to  be  swallowed  up. 

Thus  French  Canada  really  developed  its  own  traditions  in  the 
era  of  New  France.  The  ideals  of  healthy  farm  life  and  the  large 
family,  strongly  knit,  working  together,  came  from  that  time  and 

THE  LIFE  OF  NEW  FRANCE,   1663-1760 

lasted  on.  So  did  the  ideals  of  Catholic  and  classical  education 
and  the  belief  in  order  and  authority.  At  the  same  time  the  space 
and  resources  of  a  vast  new  continent  had  made  these  people  freer 
and  more  self-reliant  than  those  who  had  stayed  in  France.  They 
were  a  proud  and  sturdy  race.  Besides  the  placid  habitants,  more- 
over, there  were  the  daring  fur  traders,  and  explorers.  And  all 
had  met  and  answered  the  challenge  of  the  Canadian  land.  The 
result  was  a  new  people,  born  in  New  France,  the  seed  of  a  nation 
in  itself.  They  would  not  forget  their  heritage.  (]t  me  souviens' 
(I  remember)  is  the  official  motto  of  the  Province  of  Quebec  to- 
day. The  life  of  New  France  would  continue  to  mould  the  French 
Canadians  through  later  ages. 



i    The  Rivals  for  America 

At  the  opening  of  the  eighteenth  century,  the  French  empire  in 
America  seemed  secure.  The  War  of  the  League  of  Augsburg, 
which  closed  in  1697,  had  indeed  brought  widespread  conflict  be- 
tween French  and  English  in  America:  in  Hudson  Bay,  Acadia, 
Newfoundland,  and  along  the  border  between  New  France  and 
the  northern  English  colonies.  But  by  the  end  of  the  war  an 
attack  on  Quebec  had  been  beaten  off,  the  French  had  gained 
ground  in  Hudson  Bay,  held  their  own  in  Newfoundland,  and 
Acadia  had  been  restored  to  them  by  the  Treaty  of  Ryswick  in 
1697.  Furthermore,  in  1701  the  Iroquois  had  at  last  been  forced 
to  make  peace.  While  the  fighting  had  not  really  altered  the  balance 
of  French  and  English  power  in  America,  at  least  New  France 
could  be  satisfied  in  1702  to  have  come  through  the  struggle  so 

But  that  year  a  new  war  broke  out  between  France  and  England, 
the  War  of  Spanish  Succession,  and  by  its  close  in  1713  the  French 
had  suffered  their  first  serious  losses  of  territory  in  America.  In 
the  Treaty  of  Utrecht  of  1713,  France  recognized  British  posses- 
sion of  Hudson  Bay,  Acadia,  and  Newfoundland.  During  this 
war,  incidentally,  the  English  empire  became  the  British  Empire, 
for  in  1707  England  and  Scotland  united  to  form  the  Kingdom  of 
Great  Britain. 

The  War  of  Spanish  Succession  was  more  than  a  partial  British 
victory  in  America,  It  turned  out  to  be  the  opening  round  in  a 
conflict  of  empires  that  ended  finally  in  the  complete  triumph  of 
Britain  and  the  fall  of  New  France.  The  fighting  before  1700  in 
America  had  been  inconclusive.  Thereafter  a  crucial  struggle  for 
a  continent  began  to  unfold,  until  by  1760  the  British  flag  waved 



unchallenged  over  the  main  French  possessions  in  America.  The 
years  between  1702  and  1760  had  spelt  disaster  to  New  France. 

That  disaster  could  hardly  have  been  avoided.  The  conflict  of 
empires  gradually  grew  into  a  fight  for  survival  in  America,  and 
the  stronger  side  finally  won.  The  contest  had  really  begun  before 
1700,  but  it  had  not  reached  fatal  proportions  then.  As  the  French 
and  British  empires  spread  into  America  their  main  lines  of  ex- 
pansion had  begun  to  clash.  Mounting  conflict  was  the  result, 
and  it  grew  steadily  more  serious. 

There  were  a  number  of  more  particular  causes  besides  this 
general  one.  In  the  later  seventeenth  century,  and  through  the 
eighteenth,  France  and  Britain  fought  repeatedly  in  Europe  and 
other  parts  of  the  world.  The  fighting  in  America  thus  formed  part 
of  these  general  wars,  though  it  must  be  emphasized  that  the 
American  warfare  also  had  causes  of  its  own.  Besides  the  national 
hostility  of  France  and  Britain,  affecting  their  possessions  in 
America,  religious  antagonism  between  Catholic  French  Canada 
and  the  overwhelmingly  Protestant  English  colonies  added  fuel  to 
the  fire.  But  more  important  than  reasons  of  nationality  or  relig- 
ion were  reasons  of  trade. 

In  this  connection,  the  fur  trade  was  once  more  of  prime  sig- 
nificance. It  was  important  to  the  English  in  America  and  it  was 
the  life-blood  of  New  France.  As  the  trade  moved  westward  in 
its  constant  hunger  for  new  supplies  of  fur,  so  the  trading  systems 
of  English  and  French  ran  up  against  each  other  and  were  forced 
into  a  ceaseless  contest  for  the  fur  supply.  This,  of  course,  had 
already  led  to  war,  as  the  English  from  Hudson  Bay  on  the  north 
or  the  Hudson  valley  on  the  south  cut  into  the  French  lines  of 
trade.  In  the  later  seventeenth  century,  the  principal  fighting— 
in  the  south—had  been  between  the  French  and  the  Iroquois,  the 
Indian  allies  of  the  English.  First  the  Dutch,  then  the  English, 
had  backed  the  Five  Nations  from  their  main  fur-trading  base  of 
Albany  in  the  Hudson  valley.  But  now  the  Iroquois  had  been 
vanquished,  as  once  they  had  vanquished  the  Hurons,  the  allies 



of  France.  In  the  eighteenth  century  the  main  rivals  in  the  fiir 
trade  stood  nakedly  opposed.  French  and  English  would  have  to 
take  the  chief  parts  in  the  clashes  of  fur  empires. 

Because,  however,  the  English  in  America  were  not  so  depen- 
dent on  the  fur  trade,  they  did  not  at  first  put  forth  a  major  effort 
against  the  French,  not  while  furs  were  the  main  source  of  trouble. 
But  in  the  course  of  the  eighteenth  century  the  spreading  wave  of 
English  settlement  began  to  flow  towards  the  interior  of  the  con- 
tinent. And  here  the  French  had  flung  a  line  from  the  St  Lawrence 
to  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  claiming  the  centre  of  America,  seeking  to 
hem  the  English  in  on  the  Atlantic  coast. 

At  length  the  English  became  definitely  aroused.  With  their  far 
greater  population  they  had  to  find  new  lands  beyond  the  coastal 
plain,  and  English  claims  to  the  interior  were  at  least  as  old  as  the 
French.  On  the  other  hand,  the  French  had  done  far  more  to  ex- 
plore and  occupy  the  vast  regions  beyond  the  Appalachians.  And 
to  preserve  their  vital  fur  trade  they  had  to  prevent  English  settlers 
from  entering  there.  Settlement  versus  the  fur  trade  brought  on 
the  final  life-or-death  battle. 

Besides  the  central  struggle  for  the  heart  of  America,  the  battle 
of  empires  spread  into  outlying  regions.  The  fight  in  the  West 
Indies  was  a  contest  in  itself  for  these  rich  tropical  islands,  al- 
though they  were  tied  into  the  French  and  British  empires  in 
continental  America.  The  fur  trade  of  Hudson  Bay  and  the 
fisheries  of  Newfoundland  also  involved  the  rivals,  though  these 
areas  were  fairly  well  settled  in  British  hands  after  the  War  of 
Spanish  Succession.  Acadia,  however,  remained  an  important 
zone  of  conflict  throughout  the  period  of  wars.  Its  exposed  posi- 
tion between  the  principal  French  and  English  possessions  kept  it 
in  the  forefront.  As  a  French  base  to  menace  New  England  com- 
merce or  an  English  base  for  attacks  up  the  St  Lawrence,  Acadia 
was  concerned  in  many  warlike  operations. 

In  simplest  terms,  the  mighty  struggle  of  empires  occurred  in 
America  in  the  eighteenth  century  because  by  that  time  both  sides 



had  developed  sufficiently  to  let  loose  a  continent-wide  conflict. 
It  was  bound  to  come.  There  was  no  effective  line  of  separation 
between  the  two  empires.  The  French  did  hope  to  make  the 
Appalachians  the  dividing  line  but  were  not  strong  enough  to  hold 
it.  In  any  case  the  English  fur  trade  had  already  found  gaps  in 
that  barrier  and  had  filtered  beyond.  Behind  the  English  fur 
traders  the  resistless  flood  of  settlement  was  rising.  Both  empires 
dreamed  of  final  victory  in  America;  neither  really  sought  to  head 
off  conflict.  Their  rivalry  had  gone  too  far. 

2     The  British  Empire  in  America 

To  understand  the  course  of  the  imperial  struggle  it  is  necessary 
to  know  something  of  the  British  as  well  as  the  French  possessions 
in  North  America.  Besides  the  British  islands  in  the  West  Indies, 
highly  valued  in  the  eighteenth  century,  thirteen  mainland  colonies 
or  provinces  had  come  into  being,  ranging  down  the  Atlantic 
coast  from  Acadia  to  Spanish  Florida.  By  the  middle  of  the 
century  they  contained  a  population  about  one-third  the  size  of 
England's.  Although  the  British  empire  in  America  included 
other  outlying  areas — the  Hudson  Bay  territory,  Newfoundland, 
and  Acadia  after  1713 — the  thirteen  colonies,  rich,  populous  and 
powerful,  were  the  stronghold  of  British  power  on  the  continent. 
Not  long  after  1760  they  were  to  leave  the  empire,  but  in  the 
struggle  with  the  French  the  thirteen  were  all-important  to  Britain. 

They  varied  considerably  from  north  to  south  in  their  ways  of 
life  and  their  forms  of  society.  The  northern  provinces  of  New 
England,  led  by  Massachusetts,  were  largely  concerned  with  fish- 
ing, shipping  and  ship-building,  though  small-scale  farming  was 
also  general  and  there  was  some  fur  trade  in  the  backwoods.  The 
middle  colonies,  such  as  New  York  or  Pennsylvania,  also  engaged 
in  shipping  on  the  coast  and  fur  trading  in  the  interior,  but  farm- 
ing was  their  main  preoccupation.  They  raised  horses,  cattle  and 
plentiful  food  crops  on  good  land.  Sizable  cities  and  some  indus- 
tries were  beginning  to  appear  here,  and  also  in  New  England. 



The  warmer  southern  colonies,  like  Virginia  and  the  Carolinas, 
concentrated  on  agriculture,  and  especially  on  large-scale  farming 
by  the  plantation  system.  They  produced  a  few  basic  or  staple 
crops  for  sale  abroad:  for  example,  tobacco,  rice  or  indigo. 

Colonial  society  varied  as  did  these  business  activities,  In  the 
more  commercial  north,  rich  merchants  were  at  the  fore,  though 
the  mass  of  the  people  were  small  farm-owners.  In  the  plantation 
south,  great  planters  dominated,  but  there  were  numerous  small, 
independent  farmers,  as  well  as  the  large  number  of  negro  slaves 
who  worked  the  plantations.  On  the  whole,  despite  the  existence 
of  influential  upper  groups,  the  lack  of  long-established  class  bar- 
riers and  the  stress  laid  on  freedom  and  equality  already  made  this 
colonial  society  democratic  in  nature. 

The  forms  of  government  fitted  the  society.  The  large  degree 
of  self-government  in  every  colony  was  exercised  by  an  elected 
assembly,  on  the  British  model,  with  considerable  power  over  the 
public  funds,  without  which  government  could  not  function.  The 
general  pattern  of  government  in  each  province  comprised  a 
governor  appointed  in  Britain,  a  council,  also  appointed,  and  an 
assembly  elected  by  the  colonists  on  a  wider  voting  basis  than  in 
Britain  at  the  time.  The  colonies  originally  had  been  controlled  by 
chartered  companies,  or  by  a  single  proprietor  or  group  of  pro- 
prietors. But,  as  in  New  France,  the  crown  had  tended  to  take 
them  over  from  private  hands,  and  during  the  eighteenth  century 
there  was  a  steady  trend  towards  establishing  direct  royal  govern- 
ment in  all  the  provinces. 

This  royal  government,  however,  was  very  different  from  that 
of  New  France,  because  under  it  the  colonies  continued  generally 
to  manage  their  local  affairs  with  little  supervision  from  Britain. 
The  royal  governors,  moreover,  had  always  to  contend  with  strong 
representative  assemblies  expressing  the  popular  will.  In  two 
New  England  colonies,  indeed — Rhode  Island  and  Connecticut — 
the  governor  himself  was  locally  elected. 

Nevertheless,  British  imperial  power  attempted  to  supervise 



carefully  the  economic  life  of  the  American  colonies  by  means  of 
regulating  their  trade.  This  was  in  accordance  with  the  theory  of 
mercantilism,  which  ruled  the  British  empire  as  the  French,  and 
its  purpose  again  was  to  make  the  empire  a  strong  and  self-suffi- 
cient unit.  The  colonies  were  to  minister  to  the  needs  of  the 
motherland  by  absorbing  its  manufactures  and  supplying  it  with 
raw  materials.  Imperial  laws  sought  to  prevent  the  colonies  from 
engaging  in  much  manufacturing  on  their  own  and  at  the  same 
time  to  give  their  raw  or  staple  products  a  preferred  position  in 
the  British  market.  The  British  Navigation  Acts,  however,  were 
the  heart  of  the  colonial  system  thus  built  up.  They  limited  empire 
trade  to  British  and  colonial  shipping,  and  ensured  that  colonies 
must  buy  their  imports  from  Britain  and  send  their  chief  exports 
there.  The  laws  of  trade  were  for  some  time  only  partly  enforced, 
and  it  is  not  untrue  to  say  that  English  America  benefited  from 
them  where  they  served  its  interests  and  evaded  them  where  they 
did  not.  Yet  in  the  long  run  the  attempts  of  Britain  to  enforce  these 
restrictive  mercantilist  laws  did  much  to  lead  the  American 
colonies  to  revolution. 

The  way  in  which  these  first  American  colonies  developed 
within  the  British  empire  was  of  much  significance  for  the  future 
history  of  Canada  under  British  rule.  Broadly  speaking,  the  same 
colonial  system  was  applied  by  Britain  to  the  northern  lands  after 
1760,  while  the  structure  and  life  of  the  original  provinces  had 
considerable  influence  on  the  later  growth  of  an  English-speaking 
Canada.  Also  important,  however,  for  Canadian  history  were  the 
other  British  American  possessions  beyond  the  thirteen  colonies, 
the  Hudson  Bay  territory,  known  as  Rupert's  Land,  Newfound- 
land, and  Acadia  or  Nova  Scotia.  They  might  have  been  of  far 
less  weight  in  the  old  eighteenth-century  empire;  but  as  provinces 
which  were  to  continue  under  British  rule,  and  become  parts  of 
Canada,  they  deserve  special  attention.  In  short,  while  Canada 
is  often  thought  of  as  coming  into  British  hands  only  in  1760, 
large  tracts  of  the  present  country  were  under  the  British  flag  dur- 


THE   STRUGGLE   OF  EMPIRES,    iy02-6o 

ing  the  lifetime  of  New  France.  The  beginnings  of  English-speak- 
ing Canada  in  the  maritime,  northern,  and  western  regions  run 
far  back  into  the  French  period. 

3    'English  Canada?  in  the  Day  of  New  France 

In  the  north  and  west  of  what  is  now  Canada,  British  rule  dated 
back  to  1670,  when  Rupert's  Land  was  established  by  die  charter 
of  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company.  That  charter  granted  the  Company 
control  over  all  the  lands  draining  into  Hudson  Bay,  a  vast  shadowy 
domain  whose  limits  were  unknown.  Thanks  to  this  title,  however, 
Rupert's  Land  actually  included  the  larger  part  of  the  present 
prairie  provinces  as  well  as  much  of  the  sub-Arctic  regions.  But 
in  the  day  of  New  France,  and  for  long  afterward,  Rupert's  Land 
remained  a  colony  in  a  state  of  arrested  development.  No  attempt 
was  made  to  settle  the  barren  lands  about  Hudson  Bay,  and  the 
'colony'  did  not  progress  beyond  the  stage  of  company  rule  under 
an  absentee  governor  and  board  of  directors  in  far-distant  Lon- 
don. Still,  Rupert's  Land  had  been  granted  for  its  fur  trade,  not 
for  settlement,  and  the  fur  monopoly  remained  the  be-all  and  end- 
all  of  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company.  The  monopoly  was  quite 
typical  of  the  Canadian  fur  trade,  except  that,  unlike  the  mono- 
polists of  New  France,  the  Bay  Company  managed  it  most  success- 
fully. In  part,  being  relieved  of  the  burden  of  planting  settlers 
made  the  difference,  but  also  important  were  efficient  organiza- 
tion, advantages  of  geography,  and  superior  trade  goods. 

Private  traders  did  not  threaten  this  monopoly  as  they  did  those 
in  New  France,  for  only  a  big  company  could  afford  to  equip  large 
ships  to  trade  by  way  of  perilous  Hudson  Bay.  The  distant  Bay 
was  not  plagued  by  unlicensed  adventurers  seeking  furs  as  was 
the  St  Lawrence  fur-trade  empire.  As  for  French  competition 
from  the  south,  the  Bay  traders  had  cheaper  and  better  quality 
English  goods  that  were  sought  after  by  the  Indians.  The  Com- 
pany could  afford  to  sit  down  in  trading  posts  by  the  shore  and  let 
the  Indians  come  to  them.  From  there  the  sea  voyage  to  England 



was  comparatively  cheap  and  short:  that  is,  in  comparison  with 
the  trade  route  of  the  French,  for  they  had  to  go  to  the  western 
Indians  themselves  in  order  to  divert  furs  from  the  Bay,  and  then 
make  the  long,  costly  journey  back  to  Montreal  and  Quebec  before 
their  furs  could  be  shipped  to  market. 

The  very  success  of  the  Bay  Company  led  to  vigorous  French 
assaults  on  the  English  posts  around  the  shore.  These  attacks  had 
hardly  been  overcome  by  the  end  of  the  War  of  Spanish  Succes- 
sion when  the  English  title  to  Hudson  Bay  was  recognized.  Then 
it  was  that  the  French  sought  to  get  behind  the  Bay  by  reaching 
into  the  western  plains  overland  from  the  Great  Lakes.  The  expe- 
ditions of  La  Verendrye  and  his  sons  in  the  seventeen-thirties  and 
forties  took  them  to  the  Saskatchewan  River.  French  attempts  to 
control  this  prairie  country,  however,  were  soon  cut  short  by  the 
growing  demands  of  the  imperial  struggle  in  other  regions. 

Meanwhile  the  English  on  the  Bay  had  also  reached  the  plains. 
Henry  Kelsey  had  been  the  first  white  man  to  see  the  broad  Cana- 
dian prairies  in  1691.  Anthony  Henday  reached  the  foothills  in 
Alberta  in  1754.  But  these  journeys  did  not  yet  bring  the  Hud- 
son's Bay  Company  to  leave  its  profitable  position  beside  the  Bay. 
Rupert's  Land  remained  largely  unexplored  and  unoccupied  up 
to  the  end  of  the  French  period,  and  beyond.  Nevertheless,  it  was 
a  valuable  part  of  the  British  empire  in  America. 

Newfoundland  really  began  as  an  English  colony  in  1610,  when 
an  English  company  was  chartered  to  found  a  settlement  on  the 
island,  as  a  resident  fishery.  That  is  to  say,  the  fishing  industry 
would  be  carried  on  by  residents  on  the  island,  instead  of  from  the 
ships  that  made  the  long  voyage  from  England  each  summer.  This 
would  permit  a  longer  fishing  season  and  lower  costs.  For  these 
very  reasons  the  visiting  fishermen  bitterly  opposed  the  colony 
that  was  begun  on  Conception  Bay  in  161 1,  as  they  did  all  succeed- 
ing attempts  to  settle  the  island.  In  particular  they  feared  that 
each  year  the  residents  would  be  able  to  occupy  the  best  beaches 
for  drying  the  catch.  Because  of  this  firm  opposition,  and  its  own 



internal  troubles,  the  Newfoundland  Company  soon  collapsed. 

So  did  several  other  attempts  at  settlement,  although  small 
groups  of  settlers  were  brought  out.  Then  in  1637  Sir  David 
Kirke,  the  captor  of  Quebec,  secured  a  new  grant  for  the  coloniza- 
tion of  Newfoundland.  He  established  a  successful  colony  and 
resident  fishery,  and  from  this  time  on,  while  beset  with  many 
troubles,  English  settlement  slowly  grew  in  Newfoundland.  Har- 
bours along  the  eastern  coast  gradually  became  permanent  fishing 
ports,  though  life  there  was  hard  and  the  inhabitants  poor.  The 
chief  settlement  was  at  St  John's.  It  became  an  important  naval 
base,  thanks  to  its  fine  harbour  and  location  at  the  tip  of  the  eas- 
tern Avalon  peninsula,  guarding  the  North  Atlantic  approaches 
to  the  American  continent.  Here  there  was  some  commercial  life 
and  farming  as  well  as  fishing.  In  the  long  run  St  John's  naturally 
became  the  chief  town  and  capital  of  Newfoundland. 

Yet  this  required  a  very  long  run.  Settlement  in  the  island  was 
consistently  held  back  by  the  powerful  visiting  fishing  interest.  In 
the  seventeenth  century  the  summer  fishermen  were  many,  the 
residents  few.  Moreover,  the  visitors  had  great  influence  with  the 
English  government.  They  came  mainly  from  West  of  England 
ports,  and  this  'West  of  England  fishery'  was  looked  on  favourably 
by  the  imperial  authorities  of  the  time,  because  it  fitted  the  pre- 
vailing doctrines  of  mercantilism. 

One  of  the  main  aims  of  mercantilism  was  national  strength, 
and  the  Newfoundland  fishery  was  held  in  England  to  be  a  vital 
source  of  national  power  at  sea.  The  fishery  was  ca  nursery  of 
seamen'.  It  provided  trained  sailors  and  a  reserve  of  ships  in  time 
of  war,  while  in  peace  the  large  sale  of  dried  fish  to  southern 
European  countries  brought  in  gold  for  the  national  coffers.  New- 
foundland was  thus  highly  regarded  by  the  imperial  government; 
but  as  an  overseas  fishing  station,  not  a  colony. 

Accordingly,  settlement  in  Newfoundland  had  to  struggle 
against  official  English  policy  as  well  as  stern  natural  difficulties; 
in  1675,  it  was  even  briefly  planned  to  remove  the  colonists.  Fur- 


THE  STRUGGLE  OF  EMPIRES.,    1702-60 

thennore,  Newfoundland  was  not  granted  any  regular  colonial 
government.  The  summer  fishermen  had  established  the  practice 
of  accepting  the  captain  of  the  first  ship  to  reach  a  harbour  in  the 
island  each  year  as-  'admiral5  in  control  of  that  area.  The  English 
government  had  officially  recognized  this  system  in  the  Fishing 
Charter  of  1634.  By  it  the  fishery  was  really  given  authority  over 

Somewhat  later,  convoys  were  established  to  escort  the  fishing 
fleet  to  the  island,  and  the  naval  officer  in  charge  of  the  convoy 
was  placed  in  control.  Finally,  in  1728,  he  was  named  governor. 
Newfoundland  at  last  had  an  official  ruler — in  the  summer  at  least. 
Resident  justices  of  the  peace  substituted  for  him  in  the  winter. 
But  this  system  of  naval  governorship  again  demonstrated  the  fact 
that  Newfoundland  was  still  regarded  as  a  great  fishing  ship 
moored  off  North  America.  The  naval  regime  lasted  into  the 
nineteenth  century. 

It  was  largely  mounting  danger  from  the  French  which  brought 
the  establishment  of  even  the  naval  governorship,  and  caused 
Britain  to  give  up  any  idea  of  removing  the  settlers,  and,  indeed, 
to  recognize  the  necessity  of  a  colony  to  hold  the  island.  The 
French  had  long  been  fishing  on  the  northern  and  southern  shores, 
and,  with  the  rising  French  interest  in  empire  under  Louis  XIV 
and  Colbert,  they  themselves  planned  a  colony  in  Newfoundland. 
In  1663  settlers  were  sent  out  to  Placentia  on  the  south  coast.  By 
1689  a  vigorous  French  resident  fishery  and  strong  naval  base  had 
been  established  there. 

During  the  War  of  the  League  of  Augsburg  there  was  much 
fighting  back  and  forth  in  Newfoundland;  raids  by  land  or  sea  on 
Placentia  and  St  John's,  and  the  outlying  harbours  on  either  side. 
The  inconclusive  fighting  began  again  in  the  War  of  the  Spanish 
Succession.  The  French  had  the  better  of  it,  but  British  successes 
elsewhere,  especially  Marlborough's  victories  in  Europe,  decided 
the  issue.  In  the  Peace  of  Utrecht,  British  sovereignty  over  the 
whole  island  was  recognized,  except  for  French  rights  to  fish  and 



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THE   STRUGGLE   OF  EMPIRES,   1702-60 

dry  the  catch  on  the  unoccupied  northern  and  western  coasts.  This 
Trench  shore5  would  cause  much  trouble  in  later  times. 

But  after  1713,  Newfoundland's  most  stormy  period  of  history 
was  over.  The  old  West-of-England  interests  were  declining;  the 
resident  fishermen  were  steadily  advancing.  The  French  danger 
seemed  ended.  St  John's,  indeed,  was  attacked  and  captured  by 
French  forces  in  the  final  stage  of  the  struggle  of  empires,  but  it 
was  soon  regained.  The  peace  of  1763  that  closed  the  conflict  left 
Newfoundland  still  British,  though  the  French  fishing  rights  were 
renewed.  By  this  time  Newfoundland  had  well  over  10,000  in- 
habitants. It  was  secure  as  a  British  colony. 

Nova  Scotia  may  be  more  briefly  disposed  of,  seeing  that  it  only 
entered  the  British  empire  during  the  War  of  the  Spanish  Succes- 
sion.In  1710  Port  Royal,  the  centre  of  French  Acadian  settlement, 
was  taken  once  more  by  a  British  and  New  England  force,  though 
a  greater  joint  attack  on  Quebec  in  1711  failed  even  to  reach  that 
city.  Port  Royal  was  renamed  Annapolis  Royal  in  honour  of 
Britain's  reigning  monarch,  Queen  Anne.  This  time  Acadia  re- 
mained British  at  the  peace  settlement,  and  the  old  name  of  Nova 
Scotia  was  revived  for  the  new  province.  The  French,  however, 
kept  Cape  Breton  Island  and  He  Saint  Jean,  the  present  Prince 
Edward  Island.  Furthermore,  they  continued  to  occupy  posts  in 
northern  Acadia  (now  New  Brunswick)  and  claimed  that  only  the 
Nova  Scotian  peninsula  had  been  ceded.  The  British  contended 
that  the  whole  maritime  region  had  been  included  in  Acadia,  and 
now  formed  part  of  Nova  Scotia.  Here  lay  more  trouble  for  the 

Until  the  founding  of  Halifax  in  1749  as  a  naval  base  and  pro- 
vincial capital,  there  was  little  British  settlement  in  Nova  Scotia, 
although  a  large  fishery  developed,  centred  on  Canso.  A  few 
British  ofiicials  at  Annapolis  Royal  uneasily  governed  a  French- 
speaking  Acadian  people,  which  they  could  not  wholly  trust.  Ac- 
cordingly, the  original  plan  to  set  up  the  regular  type  of  British 
colonial  government,  of  royal  governor  and  elected  assembly,  was 



for  many  years  not  carried  out  in  Nova  Scotia.  An  assembly  was 
only  added  to  the  governor  and  council  in  17583  by  which  date 
the  rising  English-speaking  population  made  it  safe,  and  indeed 
necessary,  to  establish  representative  government.  Thus  by  the 
time  of  the  fall  of  New  France  Nova  Scotia  was  becoming  a  fairly 
typical  British  province  in  America,  one  much  like  the  New  Eng- 
land colonies.  New  Englanders  controlled  its  fisheries  and  were 
beginning  to  take  up  farms.  Nova  Scotia  could  now  be  rightly 
called  'New  England's  outpost'. 

4    The  Mounting  Conflict 

There  was  peace  between  Britain  and  France  from  1713  to  1744, 
but  in  America  the  causes  that  were  bringing  the  two  empires  into 
conflict  went  on  working  in  growing  intensity.  Trouble  was  loom- 
ing on  every  frontier  between  them.  In  the  event  of  war,  how 
would  the  power  of  the  two  American  empires  compare?  Even  a 
rapid  glance  makes  it  clear  that  if  the  French  was  much  larger  it 
was  also  much  weaker. 

While  the  principal  British  colonies  still  clung  to  the  edge  of  the 
continent,  behind  the  Appalachians  the  French  ruled  the  vast 
domain  of  the  Mississippi  valley,  as  well  as  the  realm  of  the  St 
Lawrence.  In  this  Mississippi  empire,  known  as  Louisiana,  they 
had  built  New  Orleans  in  1718,  as  their  main  base  at  the  entrance 
to  the  great  river.  From  the  Mississippi  valley  other  posts  formed 
a  chain  to  the  Great  Lakes,  whence  Forts  Niagara  and  Frontenac 
continued  it  to  Montreal  and  the  St  Lawrence.  Throughout  this 
enormous  area  the  French  ranged  free,  filled  with  the  vision  of 
holding  the  continental  interior  for  everagainst  the  unenterprising 
English.  To  this  end  they  had  on  their  side  a  superior  knowledge 
of  the  wilderness,  the  friendship  of  most  of  the  western  Indians, 
and  a  bold  unity  of  purpose. 

The  British  in  America  had  anything  but  bold  unity.  They  were 
thirteen  separate  colonies,  sometimes  as  suspicious  of  each  other 
as  they  were  of  the  French.  They  had  no  very  clear  vision  of 



empire— and  thought  more  about  the  cost  than  the  vision.  Colonial 
governors  often  had  great  difficulty  in  gaining  the  assemblies'  sup- 
port for  any  imperial  effort.  In  New  France,  on  the  other  hand, 
imperial  policy  could  be  ordered  in  Versailles  for  execution  in 
America,  and  there  was  no  assembly  to  hamper  the  use  of  the 
colony's  militia  or  to  refuse  the  necessary  funds. 

But  in  the  long  run  every  advantage  lay  with  the  British.  The 
French  empire  was  far  too  big  to  hold  on  so  small  a  basis  as  the 
population  of  New  France.  Stretched  out  too  thin,  with  the  fur 
trade  its  only  real  resource,  French  Canada  gradually  exhausted 
itself.  The  British  colonies,  occupying  a  relatively  small  area,  had 
been  able  to  build  up  a  thickly  populated  community  with  many 
and  varied  resources.  They  were  capable  of  far  greater  effort. 
There  were,  after  all,  more  than  twenty  British  colonists  for  every 
French  Canadian.  And  if  many  of  the  thirteen  colonies  would  not 
effectively  support  the  struggle  with  the  French,  Massachusetts, 
which  was  active,  alone  had  a  larger  population  than  all  New 

As  for  systems  of  government,  that  of  New  France  only  operated 
successfully  as  long  as  proper  orders  were  received.  The  colony 
was  not  used  to  making  its  own  decisions,  often  so  necessary  in 
time  of  war.  It  leaned  on  the  homeland,  while  the  British  colonies 
looked  to  themselves.  Once  they  had  been  brought  to  act,  they 
would  move  with  energy  and  initiative.  Furthermore,  the  almost 
complete  dependence  of  New  France  on  fur-trading  made  it  rely 
on  the  homeland  for  much  more  besides  instructions.  Only  in 
years  of  good  harvest  could  the  colony  even  feed  itself.  In  Canada 
prolonged  fighting,  with  the  militia  away  from  home,  might  mean 
a  ruined  harvest  and  near-starvation.  There  was  no  such  danger  in 
the  well-stocked  thirteen  colonies. 

Finally,  in  regard  to  support  from  the  motherlands,  the  British 
in  America  again  had  the  advantage.  It  was  true  that  France  could 
send  excellent  troops  to  the  American  conflict.  But  first  they  had 
to  cross  the  ocean.  During  the  long  imperial  struggle  the  British 


THE   STRUGGLE   OF  EMPIRES,    1702-60 

navy  gradually  secured  an  ascendancy  over  the  French,  first 
gained  during  the  War  of  the  League  of  Augsburg.  Thus,  though 
both  France  and  Britain  sent  regular  forces  across  the  Atlantic, 
in  the  long  run  the  British  fleet  reduced  the  flow  of  French  re- 
inforcements to  a  mere  trickle,  while  Britain  freely  built  up  armies 
in  America.  Sea  power,  which  had  already  influenced  the  out- 
come of  the  War  of  the  Spanish  Succession,  played  a  vital  part  in 
eventually  deciding  the  struggle  in  America  in  favour  of  the  British 
empire.  The  fate  of  the  French  inland  kingdom  of  the  Mississippi 
was  in  one  sense  settled  by  British  naval  victories  in  the  North 

That  the  peace  after  the  War  of  the  Spanish  Succession  was  large- 
ly only  an  armed  truce  was  shown  by  the  French  construction  of 
Louisbourg  in  1720.  There  on  Cape  Breton  island  they  began  a 
massive  stone  fortress  and  naval  base  to  replace  Port  Royal,  re- 
vealing that  they  had  not  altogether  given  up  thoughts  of  regaining 
Acadia.  Six  years  later  the  British  on  their  side  expressed  their 
thoughts  when  they  reached  north  to  plant  Fort  Oswego  on  Lake 
Ontario,  across  from  Fort  Frontenac.  Here  was  a  British  post 
right  beside  the  vital  French  highway  of  empire,  at  the  point 
where  it  entered  the  St  Lawrence;  and  it  was  built  on  lands  which 
the  French  had  always  regarded  as  their  own.  In  their  turn  the 
French  built  Crown  Point,  to  block  attacks  from  the  south  by 
way  of  Lake  Champlain,  and  placed  it  within  boundaries  claimed 
by  the  province  of  New  York.  The  signs  of  conflict  were  growing. 

Thus,  in  1744,  the  clash  of  Britain  and  France  in  Europe  in  the 
Warof  the  Austrian  Succession  unleashed  new  fightingin  America. 
Nova  Scotia  and  Louisbourg  were  the  principal  scenes  of  battle. 
New  England  was  especially  concerned  over  the  new  French  fort- 
ress because  of  the  likelihood  of  raids  from  there  on  New  England 
shipping.  In  1745  a  force  of  New  Englanders  and  a  British  fleet 
took  the  works  of  Louisbourg.  Yet  the  peace  of  Aix-la-Chapelle, 
in  1748,  handed  Louisbourg  back  to  France,  much  to  New 
England's  disgust,  chiefly  because  the  fortunes  of  war  elsewhere 








British  Possessions 
French         ,. 

3    Spanish 

British  Forts,  Bases  and 

Towns  are  shown  in 
heavy  type 



had  been  too  evenly  divided  to  permit  anything  but  a  restoration 
of  conquests  on  both  sides.  With  this,  America  was  nominally  at 
peace  once  more.  But  the  years  that  followed  until  war  broke  out 
again,  in  1754,  were  hardly  even  a  truce.  From  1748  on,  both 
sides  were  heading  for  renewed  conflict  in  America;  and  this 
would  be  the  final  round. 

5     The  Final  Struggle 

The  main  contest  between  the  empires  was  now  shifting  into  a 
new  area  where  there  had  not  been  fighting  before.  This  was  the 
Ohio  country,  which  lay  between  the  Appalachians  and  the 
Mississippi  and  was  drained  into  that  river  by  the  waters  of  the 
Ohio.  Hitherto  the  French  had  not  occupied  the  Ohio  region, 
and  had  generally  used  the  upper  Mississippi  as  their  route  to 
the  Great  Lakes  and  Canada.  The  route  by  way  of  the  Ohio  to 
Lake  Erie  was  a  shorter  one,  however. 

Yet  the  French  moved  into  the  Ohio  chiefly  to  protect  their 
hold  on  the  Mississippi-St  Lawrence  chain  of  empire  that  ran 
farther  west.  The  English  colonies  were  beginning  to  advance 
over  the  Appalachians  into  the  Ohio  country.  They  had  to  be 
stopped  at  the  mountain  rim  before  they  moved  farther,  for  once 
past  the  Appalachians  there  was  no  other  natural  barrier  between 
English  settlement  and  the  whole  flat,  continental  interior.  The 
French  fur-trade  empire  was  in  deadly  danger.  The  Ohio  country 
had  to  be  made  its  protecting  bastion. 

In  1748  an  influential  group  in  Virginia,  a  colony  which 
claimed  much  of  the  west,  had  formed  the  Ohio  Company,  and 
had  been  granted  lands  in  the  Ohio  valley  to  sell  to  settlers.  The 
French  acted  accordingly.  In  1749  they  sent  an  expedition  to  take 
formal  possession  of  the  Ohio,  which  had  previously  been  a  no- 
man's  land,  and  drove  out  English  fur  traders  found  there.  This 
was  partly  a  defensive  act  by  the  French  empire.  Equally  it  was 
an  aggressive  step,  a  move  to  advance  right  up  to  the  Appalachians 
and  pin  the  English  colonies  at  that  line.  Given  the  mounting 



pressure  of  English  settlement  seeking  to  expand  west,  such  a  step 
could  only  bring  an  explosion. 

It  was  not  long  in  coming.  New  France  backed  the  claim  to  the 
Ohio  valley  by  building  a  series  of  forts  through  it,  the  chief  one 
at  the  forks  of  the  Ohio,  Fort  Duquesne.  These  activities  had 
meanwhile  roused  some  of  the  English  colonies,  and  in  1754  the 
governor  of  Virginia  sent  a  young  major  of  militia,  a  certain 
George  Washington,  with  a  few  troops  to  expel  the  French.  He 
failed :  but  his  little  skirmish  at  Great  Meadows,  deep  in  the  Ohio 
forests,  was  the  explosion  that  set  off  the  last  great  imperial  con- 
flict. When  this  war  was  over  New  France  had  fallen  and  the 
French  empire  in  America  was  at  an  end. 

While  the  Ohio  clash  began  the  conflict,  it  was  also  about  to 
break  in  Nova  Scotia.  After  the  restoration  of  Louisbourg  in  1748, 
France  had  sought  to  weaken  the  hold  of  the  British  on  Nova 
Scotia  by  turning  their  French  Acadian  subjects  against  them.  Ever 
since  the  Treaty  of  Utrecht  Britain  had  not  been  able  to  bring  the 
Acadians  to  take  an  oath  of  allegiance  to  the  British  King,  largely 
because  they  feared  lest  this  oath  might  some  day  commit  them 
to  fight  against  France.  The  Acadians  were  not  rebellious  but 
sought  to  be  neutral  in  any  war.  For  more  than  forty  years  they 
managed  to  persist  in  this  state,  peacefully  farming  their  lands, 
increasing  to  10,000  in  number  by  1750 — until  they  were  caught 
up  in  the  violence  between  empires  and  scattered  to  the  winds. 

If  France  now  had  not  sought  to  incite  the  Acadians  against 
Britain  the  British  authorities  in  Nova  Scotia  might  still  have 
accepted  this  long  established  situation.  But  French  agents  began 
to  urge  the  Acadians  to  reject  the  oath  and  to  stir  up  the  Indians. 
There  were  Micmac  Indian  raids  and  massacres  at  new  British 
settlements.  Then,  in  1750,  the  French  built  Fort  Beausejour  at 
the  end  of  the  isthmus  connecting  Nova  Scotia  with  what  is  now 
New  Brunswick.  There  they  were  joined  by  some  of  the  Acadians. 
The  British  built  Fort  Lawrence  on  the  Nova  Scotian  side.  While 
disputes  ensued  as  to  the  proper  boundaries  of  Nova  Scotia,  ten- 



sion  mounted  steadily.  The  British  officials  feared  for  a  province 
largely  populated  by  French  Acadians  who  had  taken  no  oath  of 
allegiance  and  were  being  stirred  into  unrest  from  Louisbourg 
and  Beausejour. 

In  1755,  after  fighting  had  begun  in  America,  the  British  took 
Beausejour  and  found  Acadians  in  the  garrison.  The  British 
governor  at  last  decided  that  for  the  safety  of  Nova  Scotia,  Aca- 
dians must  take  the  oath  or  be  deported.  He  expected  only  to 
have  to  deport  a  few,  but  the  Acadians,  not  believing  after  many 
years  that  the  threat  was  real,  still  refused  the  oath.  Most  of  them 
had  not  been  involved  with  the  French  agents  in  their  midst,  but 
all  suffered  in  the  emergency.  Hasty  and  ill-managed  prepara- 
tions added  to  their  suffering.  From  August,  1755  onward,  this 
quiet  people  was  uprooted  from  the  Annapolis  valley  and  scattered 
through  the  English  colonies.  Some  of  them  eventually  made  their 
way  back  to  their  Acadia,  but  most  never  returned.  Displaced 
persons  they  were,  tragic  victims  of  a  great  war. 

The  fighting  was  well  under  way  in  America  in  1755,  although 
it  did  not  break  out  in  Europe  until  the  next  year,  when  France 
and  Britain  officially  entered  on  the  Seven  Years'  War.  But  in 
1755  both  countries  sent  large  expeditions  to  America.  The 
British  force  under  General  Braddock  was  chiefly  designed  to 
help  the  colonists  drive  the  French  out  of  the  Ohio  valley.  The 
attempt  resulted  in  disastrous  defeat  and  Braddock's  death;  and 
of  three  other  British  attacks  on  French  strong  points  only  that  on 
Fort  Beausejour  succeeded. 

By  the  next  year  an  able  general  had  taken  command  of  newly 
strengthened  French  forces,  the  gallant  but  ill-starred  Marquis  de 
Montcalm.  If  bold  leadership  alone  could  have  saved  New  France 
his  might  have  done  so.  Yet,  as  well  as  facing  the  British  with 
limited  resources,  Montcalm  had  to  contend  with  a  meddlesome, 
over-bearing  governor,  Vaudreuil,  and  a  clever  but  corrupt 
intendant,  Bigot,  who  made  his  fortune  at  the  expense  of  the 
French  war  effort  and  the  last  defence  of  New  France. 



Because  of  the  dangerous  weaknesses  of  Canada,  its  long, 
thinly  held  defences,  its  short  supplies,  and  the  need  of  using  its 
inhabitants  both  as  militia  and  as  farmers,  Montcalm  could  not 
afford  long  campaigns.  He  struck  rapidly  with  his  few  battalions 
of  well-trained  regulars,  his  Indians  and  forest-wise  Canadians, 
keeping  the  British  off  balance  so  that  they  could  not  gather  their 
superior  forces  for  a  crushing  blow.  At  first  he  was  aided  by  poor 
British  generalship,  quarrelling  colonies,  and  a  weak  government 
in  Britain.  Thus  the  French  took  the  advanced  British  post  of 
Fort  Oswego  in  1756  and  the  next  year  went  further  to  capture 
and  destroy  Fort  William  Henry  on  Lake  George. 

But  in  1758  strong  British  forces  under  better  leaders  began 
closing  in  on  the  French  empire  in  America.  In  Britain  the  bril- 
liant minister,  William  Pitt,  had  taken  over  the  direction  of  the  war. 
British  naval  might  was  cutting  off  any  hope  of  reinforcements  for 
Montcalm,  while  they  flowed  readily  to  his  enemies.  Though  the 
French  commander  won  a  striking  success  at  Ticonderoga,  in 
throwing  back  a  British  advance  up  the  Lake  George-Lake 
Champlain  invasion  route  to  Canada,  to  the  west  the  loss  of  Fort 
Frontenac  snapped  the  French  life-line  to  the  Ohio  valley.  Fort 
Duquesne  was  abandoned,  and  the  Ohio  prize  fell  into  British 
hands.  And  far  to  the  east  the  thick  walls  of  Louisbourg  were 
battered  and  breached  by  an  army  and  fleet  under  Generals 
Amherst  and  Wolfe.  A  strange,  sickly  young  man,  this  General 
James  Wolfe,  but  in  him  lay  the  doom  of  New  France. 

Doom  came  in  1759.  That  year  a  three-fold  British  attack  was 
launched:  at  Fort  Niagara,  which  quickly  fell,  towards  Montreal 
by  way  of  Lake  Champlain— and  this  attack  was  checked— and  at 
Quebec  itself.  The  fall  of  Louisbourg,  guardian  of  the  sea-gate  to 
New  France,  had  opened  the  way  to  the  capital  of  Canada.  Once 
again,  as  in  1629, 1690  and  1711,  a  British  fleet  sailed  into  the  wide 
St  Lawrence.  Sea  power  reached  up  the  river  and  placed  Wolfe's 
army  on  its  southern  shore,  across  from  the  city  of  Quebec.  For 
three  months,  however,  he  was  held  here,  unable  to  reach  the 

THE   STRUGGLE  OF  EMPIRES,    1702-60 

French  stronghold  on  the  other  bank;  for  on  the  northern  shore 
Quebec  was  protected  on  one  side  by  a  line  of  steep  cliffs  and  on 
the  other  by  Montcalm's  well  planned  defences  that  blocked  every 
attack.  And  so  the  siege  dragged  on,  until  the  night  of  12  Septem- 

On  that  night  Wolfe  boldly  chose  to  try  the  cliffs  above  Quebec. 
Silently,  under  cover  of  darkness,  he  moved  some  of  his  troops  in 
small  boats  to  a  narrow,  rocky  cove  not  far  above  the  city.  Here 
he  had  observed  a  path  leading  up  the  steep  cliff-side  to  the  heights. 
The  heights  above  this  difficult  pathway  were  only  lightly  guarded, 
thanks  to  the  interfering  Vaudreuil,  who  had  ordered  one  of  Mont- 
calm's  regiments  away  for  more  useful  service  elsewhere.  By 
dawn  the  British  had  struggled  up  the  path  to  the  Plains  of 
Abraham.  They  stood  at  last  on  the  weakly  defended  landward  side 
of  Quebec,  their  red  coats  shimmering  like  danger  beacons  through 
the  morning  mists  that  hung  on  the  open  plain. 

As  soon  as  he  learned  of  Wolfe's  successful  approach,  Montcalm 
resolved  on  an  immediate  counter-attack,  to  drive  the  British  from 
the  heights  before  they  could  bring  up  all  their  forces.  Hastily  his 
troops  streamed  forth  from  Quebec,  the  white-coated  French 
regulars,  the  grey-clad  Canadian  militia.  But  the  surprised  and 
partly  disorganized  French  were  soon  thrown  into  confusion  by 
heavy  British  volleys  and  a  bayonet  charge.  Almost  before  it 
began  the  battle  was  decided,  and  the  French  were  pouring  back  in 
disorder  their  cause  in  ruin.  The  surrender  of  Quebec  soon  fol- 
lowed. Neither  Wolfe  nor  Montcalm  lived  to  see  it.  Both  had 
been  fatally  wounded  on  the  Plains  of  Abraham,  where  the  fate  of 
New  France  was  sealed. 

The  fighting  was  not  yet  finished,  however.  The  remaining 
French  forces  rallied  at  Montreal,  while  the  British  fleet  departed 
from  the  St  Lawrence  to  avoid  being  frozen  in  the  winter,  leaving 
a  garrison  in  the  bombarded  and  ruined  city  of  Quebec.  Early 
next  spring  the  British  garrison,  ridden  with  sickness,  was  itself 
besieged  in  Quebec  by  the  French  from  Montreal.  As  the  ice 


THE  STRUGGLE   OF  EMPIRES,    1702-60 

broke  in  the  St  Lawrence  all  eyes  watched  anxiously  for  the  first 
sails  to  come  up  the  river.  It  was  British  ships  that  appeared: 
once  more  sea  power  had  played  its  telling  role.  With  little  hope 
left,  the  French  retired  to  Montreal.  There,  as  British  armies 
advanced  from  three  sides,  from  Quebec,  from  the  west  and  from 
Lake  Champlain,  they  made  their  final  surrender.  By  the  Capitu- 
lations of  Montreal,  of  September,  1760,  they  transferred  Canada 
to  Britain,  and  the  fleur-de-lis  of  France  at  last  came  down  from 
the  headquarters  of  the  great  French  fur  trade,  the  mission  station 
and  frontier  post  of  the  early  days  of  the  colony. 

The  war  did  not  officially  end  until  the  Peace  of  1763,  although 
New  France  had  fallen  three  years  earlier.  The  struggle  of  empires 
had  closed  by  creating  British  Canada.  Yet  French  Canada  would 
not  die.  The  sure  strength  of  its  people,  rooted  in  the  St  Lawrence 
land,  their  long  memories,  their  French  language,  their  Catholic 
faith,  would  still  preserve  French  Canada.  Nevertheless  an  age 
had  ended.  The  day  of  New  France  was  over.  A  new  age  had 
begun  in  Canada's  history,  the  age  of  British  North  America. 







I    Canada  in  the  First  British  Empire 

In  1763  the  Peace  of  Paris  brought  the  Seven  Years'  War  to  a 
close,  ending  the  great  duel  of  France  and  Britain  in  Europe  and 
in  the  world  overseas.  French  Canada,  however,  had  already  come 
under  British  rule  in  1760.  As  far  as  North  America  was  con- 
cerned, the  Peace  of  Paris  only  recognized  an  established  fact  in 
declaring  all  New  France  ceded  to  Britain.  At  the  same  time 
France  transferred  its  Mississippi  domain,  Louisiana,  to  Spain. 
Except  for  the  continuance  of  fishing  rights  on  the  northern  and 
western  shores  of  Newfoundland,  and  possession  of  the  little 
fishing  islands  of  St  Pierre  and  Miquelon  in  the  Gulf  of  St 
Lawrence,  French  empire  in  America  was  at  an  end. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  British  empire  now  stretched  unbroken 
from  Hudson  Bay  to  the  Gulf  of  Mexico.  The  St  Lawrence  colony 
of  New  France  had  become  the  British  province  of  Quebec. 
French  Acadia,  of  course,  had  been  the  British  province  of  Nova 
Scotia  since  1713,  although  its  boundaries  had  been  in  dispute. 
In  1763  they  were  defined  to  include  the  whole  Acadian  coastal 
region.  At  the  same  time  the  coast  of  Labrador  was  placed  under 
Newfoundland  control,  and  the  boundaries  of  Quebec  were  also 
reduced  in  the  west,  making  it  a  province  of  the  St  Lawrence 
valley  alone. 

In  any  event,  there  were  after  1760  four  British  possessions 
within  the  present  bounds  of  Canada :  Quebec,  Nova  Scotia,  New- 
foundland and  Rupert's  Land.  The  latter  two  were  relatively  un- 
developed, and  Quebec  was  larger  and  more  important  than  Nova 
Scotia.  These  northern  provinces  were  not  thought  of  at  the  time 
as  composing  a  'Canadian'  unit  in  themselves.  Along  with  the 



thirteen  colonies,  they  were  simply  regarded  as  parts  of  one 
British  American  empire,  Canada,  in  short,  had  been  fully  brought 
into  the  First  British  Empire,  the  old  empire  before  the  American 

Of  the  two  main  northern  provinces,  Nova  Scotia  was  looked 
upon  almost  as  one  of  the  New  England  colonies,  while,  on  the 
signing  of  peace,  policies  were  fashioned  for  Quebec  that  were 
intended  to  make  it  much  the  same  as  any  other  British  province 
in  America.  There  was  to  be  no  special  treatment  for  the  new 
province,  despite  its  unique  French  background  and  its  French- 
speaking  population.  The  rulers  of  the  triumphant  First  Empire 
set  forth  their  policiea  for  America  as  a  whole.  Lax  imperial  con- 
trols were  to  be  tightened,  and  the  empire  made  a  much  more 
efficient  unit.  A  common  land  policy  was  laid  down  for  the  newly- 
won  American  West  in  the  royal  Proclamation  of  1763.  The  same 
document  also  dealt  with  the  new  province  of  Quebec,  defining  its 
boundaries  and  promising  regular  British  institutions,  including 
representative  government. 

Nova  Scotia,  meanwhile,  had  been  given  representative  govern- 
ment in  1758.  Equipped  with  a  royal  governor  and  an'  elected 
assembly,  it  was  developing  along  the  typical  lines  of  the  British 
American  provinces.  Following  the  expulsion  of  the  Acadians, 
New  Englanders  had  begun  to  take  over  their  vacant  farms  around 
the  Bay  of  Fundy.  Settlement  was  spreading  northward  along  the 
Atlantic  coastal  plain,  and  there  was  a  steady  flow  of  New  England 
immigrants  into  Nova  Scotia  during  the  1760'$.  The  New  Eng- 
landers brought  their  town  meetings  and  Congregational  churches 
with  them.  They  built  up  the  Nova  Scotian  fisheries.  They  sat  in 
the  provincial  assembly.  Nova  Scotia  was  apparently  becoming  a 
new  Massachusetts. 

Nevertheless  there  were  significant  differences,  in  many  ways 
Nova  Scotia  was  not  a  northward  extension  of  the  New  England 
mainland,  but  almost  an  island  with  its  back  to  America,  looking 
out  to  sea.  This  island  was  a  British  naval  stronghold.  In  1749 



Halifax  had  been  founded  as  a  British  answer  to  Louisbourg,  and 
it  was  rapidly  rising  as  an  imperial  citadel.  In  the  American 
Revolution  it  would  become  the  key  British  naval  base  in  America. 
Furthermore,  with  the  founding  of  Halifax,  over  two  thousand 
settlers  had  been  sent  out  from  Britain,  and  Germans  had  been 
settled  at  Lunenburg  further  down  the  Atlantic  shore.  Yorkshire- 
men,  Highland  Scots,  Irishmen,  Germans,  and  remnants  of  the 
Acadians,  varied  the  New  England  character  of  thinly-populated 
Nova  Scotia. 

In  the  garrison  capital  of  Halifax,  cut  off  as  it  was  by  rough 
country  from  the  main  areas  of  settlement  in  the  province,  govern- 
ment officials,  rich  merchants,  and  contractors  to  the  armed  forces 
could  exercise  a  great  deal  of  influence  over  the  government  of 
Nova  Scotia.  The  power  of  this  Halifax  oligarchy,  centred  around 
the  governor,  rendered  the  provincial  assembly  rather  weak  and 
ineffective.  Here  again  was  an  important  difference  from  the  New 
England  colonies. 

These  differences  would  show  more  clearly  once  the  American 
Revolution  had  broken  out.  But  at  least  Nova  Scotia  was  being 
mainly  peopled  by  English-speaking  settlers,  used  to  British  insti- 
tutions. Quebec,  on  the  other  hand,  remained  a  French  com- 
munity in  a  British-American  empire.  Few  English-speaking 
settlers  came  to  it  after  1760. 

At  first  it  was  expected  that  they  would  come.  The  Proclamation 
of  1763  invited  migration  to  Quebec  at  the  same  time  as  it  closed 
the  western  lands  beyond  the  Appalachians  to  settlement.  The 
door  to  the  West  had  been  shut  because,  at  the  end  of  the  Seven 
Years'  War,  the  western  Indians  had  risen  under  the  chieftain 
Pontiac  to  drive  the  white  men  back  over  the  mountains.  Closing 
the  Appalachian  frontier  would  give  time  for  pacifyingthe  Indians 
and  for  making  treaties  regarding  their  lands.  And,  also,  the  tide 
of  American  settlement  might  be  deflected  northward,  as  in  Nova 
Scotia's  case,  until  the  French  in  Quebec  were  submerged  in  an 
English-speaking  population. 



In  this  way  the  unusual  new  province  would  indeed  be  ab- 
sorbed in  the  British  American  empire.  To  begin  the  process  of 
assimilation,  and  to  invite  settlers  from  the  thirteen  colonies,  the 
Proclamation  of  1763  promised  English  law  and  representative 
government  in  Quebec.  But  settlers  still  did  not  come.  Quebec 
seemed  too  far,  too  cold,  too  alien;  not  at  all  like  the  tempting  lands 
in  the  Ohio  valley,  just  across  the  mountains.  Thus  the  Proclama- 
tion failed  in  its  aim  of  absorbing  Canada  completely  in  the  First 
British  Empire.  Instead,  by  blocking  the  demand  of  American 
colonists  for  western  lands,  it  became  an  important  step  on  the  way 
to  revolution  and  the  destruction  of  that  empire. 

2     The  Problem  of  Quebec 

New  France  had  changed  very  little  with  the  coming  of  British 
rule  in  1760.  The  French  officials  and  merchants,  and  religious 
orders  like  the  Jesuits,  had  been  withdrawn  from  the  colony,  and 
some  seigneurs  had  also  returned  to  France.  Yet  the  mass  of  the 
population,  Canadian-born  as  it  was — seigneurs,  habitants,  and 
ordinary  clergy— had  remained  in  Canada.  The  Catholic  farming 
colony  of  the  St  Lawrence  was  not  greatly  altered  in  character. 
The  moderate  British  military  government,  that  ruled  from  1760 
until  after  the  peace  settlement  of  1763,  had  done  much  to 
establish  good  relations  between  the  new  authorities  and  the  in- 
habitants. The  Catholic  Church,  which  was  then  outlawed  in 
Britain,  had  been  virtually  left  alone,  and  the  temporary  military 
regime  had  generally  accepted  the  French  colony  as  it  was. 

It  might  still  be  wondered  whether  65,000  French  Canadians 
could  survive  as  a  people  in  an  English-speaking  American  empire 
of  two-and-a-half  million  inhabitants.  But  after  1760  the  only 
British  immigrants  to  Quebec  were  a  small  number  of  merchants, 
who  came  originally  as  contractors  and  suppliers  to  the  British 
army  of  occupation.  They  settled  mainly  in  Montreal  and  Quebec 
city,  filling  the  gap  left  by  the  removal  of  the  French  merchants. 
They  began  taking  over  the  colony's  fur  trade,  and  other  mer- 



chants  joined  them  from  American  fur-trading  centres  like 
Albany.  A  new  St  Lawrence  fur  empire  was  in  the  making. 

Combining  the  advantages  of  the  St  Lawrence  route.,  the  key  to 
the  interior,  with  the  backing  of  powerful  London  commercial  in- 
terests, allying  British  and  Yankee  business  ability  with  French 
Canadian  forest  lore,  these  new  St  Lawrence  merchants  rose 
rapidly  to  a  position  of  wealth  and  power  in  the  province.  Al- 
though a  small  minority  in  this  thoroughly  French  colony,  they 
came  to  control  its  economic  life.  At  the  same  time  French  and 
English  came  together  in  a  vital  partnership  in  the  fur  trade. 
Money  and  leadership  in  Montreal  and  London  combined  with 
the  skill  and  endurance  of  the  Canadian  voyageury  who  worked 
deep  in  the  western  wilderness. 

Nevertheless.,  trouble  was  being  stored  up  for  the  future.  Out- 
side of  the  fur  trade,  all-important  as  it  still  was,  and  within  the 
colony  itself  the  two  peoples  were  travelling  separate  paths.  The 
French  majority  were  engaged  mainly  in  agriculture,  the  English 
minority  in  trade.  Both  sides  were  acquiring  different  interests ; 
each  began  looking  down  on  the  other's  way  of  life.  The  seeds  of 
racial  strife  were  being  sown. 

In  1764,  after  peace  was  signed,  permanent  civil  government 
replaced  military  rule  in  Quebec,  and  the  Proclamation  indicated 
the  lines  it  would  follow.  While  the  merchants  disliked  the  re- 
stricting of  Quebec's  boundaries,  which  raised  the  problem  of 
their  access  to  the  west,  they  were  heartily  pleased  by  the  promise 
of  British  institutions.  They  wanted  the  English  common  law  they 
had  always  known,  and  the  representative  government  which  they 
regarded  as  a  basic  right  of  British  citizenship.  But  now  there 
entered  the  new  governor  of  the  province,  James  Murray,  to 
oppose  the  establishment  of  a  representative  assembly. 

Murray  had  succeeded  Wolfe  in  command  of  the  army  at 
Quebec,  and  thereafter  had  been  military  governor.  On  his  new 
appointment  as  civil  governor  of  the  province  he  had  been  in- 
structed to  establish  English  law,  appoint  a  temporary  council, 



and  arrange  for  the  electing  of  an  assembly.  He  appointed  a  small 
council.,  and  worked  slowly  towards  establishing  a  system  of 
English  law,  but  steadily  postponed  calling  an  assembly.  In  part 
his  objections  were  practical  enough.  Bringing  the  unknown  Eng- 
lish law  wholesale  into  the  French  colony  would  create  wide- 
spread confusion.  And  as  for  an  assembly,  existing  British  enact- 
ments barring  Catholics  from  political  rights  would  put  Quebec 
in  the  hands  of  a  tiny  Protestant  minority. 

Yet  Murray  was  also  much  influenced  by  the  prejudices  of  a 
soldier  and  official  against  noisy  civilians  and  quarrelsome  trades- 
men. He  preferred  the  placid  French  Canadian  habitants  and 
their  authoritarian  feudal  system  to  the  merchants  and  their 
dangerous  democratic  notions  about  self-government.  As  quarrels 
between  merchants  and  governor  grew,  Murray  made  himself  the 
champion  of  French  Canadian  rights.  His  position  did  him  much 
credit.  Still  he  blocked  the  introduction  of  British  institutions  in 
Quebec  at  a  time  when  the  French  were  not  really  aroused  to  seek 
special  treatment.  This  led  to  further  difficulties  in  later  years.  It 
was  shortly  made  clear  that  British  restrictions  on  Catholics  did 
not  extend  to  Canada.  But  by  then  the  hope  of  an  assembly,  and 
of  fitting  Quebec  into  British  political  forms,  was  fast  disappearing. 

Strife  between  governor  and  merchants  grew  so  bitter  that  in 
1765  Murray  was  recalled.  His  successor,  Guy  Carleton  (later 
Sir  Guy),  at  first  worked  with  the  merchants.  But  he  too  was  a 
soldier  with  a  distaste  for  trade,  and  an  Anglo-Irish  aristocrat  as 
well.  He  soon  came  to  admire  the  orderly  French  Canadian 
society,  with  its  aristocratic  and  military-looking  seigneurial 
system,  especially  when  His  Majesty's  subjects  in  the  thirteen 
colonies  grew  increasingly  radical  and  disorderly  in  their  politics. 
As  the  discontent  that  led  to  revolution  mounted  in  the  south, 
Carleton  began  to  regard  Quebec  as  a  valuable  stronghold  against 
disloyalty  and  violence  in  America. 

In  1769  the  British  Board  of  Trade,  the  expert  body  advising 
on  imperial  policy,  urged  again  that  an  assembly  be  called  in 



Quebec  as  promised,  one  now  representing  both  French  and 
English.  Carleton  argued  against  the  Board's  report.  Canada,  he 
insisted,  was  French  and  would  always  remain  so.  What  was 
needed  was  not  British  institutions,  but  a  full  recognition  of  exist- 
ing French  institutions  to  bind  Canadian  loyalty  tightly  to  the 
empire.  In  particular,  the  natural  leaders  of  the  Canadians,  their 
seigneurs  and  clergy,  had  to  be  won  over.  Then,  in  the  event  of 
trouble  in  America,  a  French  Canadian  army  could  be  raised,  and 
Quebec  would  serve  as  a  powerful  British  military  base.  These 
arguments  told  in  Britain,  where  the  government  was  growing 
increasingly  uneasy  over  the  discord  in  the  America  colonies. 

Accordingly,  the  programme  of  the  Proclamation,  that  aimed 
at  the  absorption  of  Quebec,  was  set  aside.  Why,  in  truth,  absorb 
the  French  province  into  a  rebellious  empire?  The  Quebec  mer- 
chants still  sought  the  long-pledged  assembly,  but  their  efforts 
were  doomed  to  failure.  At  length,  in  1774,  as  American  unrest 
moved  towards  open  revolution,  the  Quebec  Act  was  passed  in 
Britain.  It  fitted  Carleton's  views,  and  represented  the  final  aban- 
donment of  the  policy  of  assimilation. 

Under  this  measure  Quebec  received  distinctive  treatment,  in- 
deed. There  was  a  complete  acceptance  of  authoritarian  rule. 
Government  was  to  be  by  governor  and  an  appointed  council  of 
both  French  and  English,  with  no  provision  for  an  assembly.  The 
English  criminal  law  providing  trial  by  jury  was  established,  but 
French  civil  law  was  maintained.  The  seigneurial  system  was 
guaranteed,  as  was  the  freedom  of  Roman  Catholic  worship.  The 
Church  had  already  been  allowed  to  hold  its  worship  freely,  and 
even  to  name  a  new  bishop  and  to  gather  tithes;  but  now  tithes 
were  recognized  and  enforced  by  law.  The  Catholic  Church  in 
Quebec  became  a  body  backed  by  the  state.  The  result  was  un- 
doubtedly a  generous  grant  of  French  Canadian  rights  and  privi- 
leges, but  at  first  the  Act  did  more  apparent  harm  than  good. 

In  the  first  place,  a  further  provision  of  the  Quebec  Act  annexed 
the  western  lands  between  the  Ohio  and  upper  Mississippi  rivers 



to  Quebec.  The  extension  of  the  boundaries  was  meant  both  to 
console  the  fur-trade  merchants  of  Quebec  and  to  tie  the  Ohio 
country  to  a  'safe'  province.  Yet  this  provision  was  a  last  straw 
to  the  discontented  American  colonies.  The  West  they  considered 
as  theirs,  that  they  had  fought  for  during  the  Seven  Years'  War,, 
was  being  given  to  their  defeated  foe,  French  Catholic  Canada, 
in  American  eyes,  the  Quebec  Act  became  one  of  the  final  'In- 
tolerable Acts'  of  Britain  that  put  the  spark  to  revolution.  The 
colonists  were  also  afraid  that  the  privileges  granted  to  the  Catho- 
lic church  and  the  return  to  authoritarian  rule  in  Quebec  showed 
that  Britain  intended  to  make  Canada  the  check  on  the  colonies' 
freedom  which  it  had  been  in  the  days  of  New  France.  They  were 
not  entirely  wrong. 

But  in  the  second  place,  and  more  important  for  Canadian  his- 
tory, the  Quebec  Act  meant  that  the  province  of  Quebec  had  been 
put  on  a  special  basis  by  an  imperial  act  of  parliament.  This  would 
complicate  the  future  development  of  Canadian  government.  The 
chance  to  fit  Quebec  from  the  beginning  into  the  ordinary  pattern 
of  British  institutions  had  been  lost.  No  doubt  there  was  never 
any  likelihood  of  completely  assimilating  (which  after  all,  meant 
swallowing)  the  French  Canadians  in  an  English-speaking  Canada. 
But  in  some  ways  the  future  co-operation  between  the  two  lan- 
guage groups  in  Canada  was  made  more  difficult  by  this  measure 
which  increased  the  French  feeling  of  separateness.  At  any  rate, 
the  Quebec  Act  had  not  solved  the  problem  of  Quebec.  Nor  did 
it  fully  achieve  Carleton's  purpose  of  making  the  province  a  strong 
British  base  in  the  American  Revolution:  a  revolution  which  it 
helped  to  bring  on. 

3     The  Impact  of  the  Revolution 

The  roots  of  the  American  Revolution,  of  course,  ran  far  behind 
the  Quebec  Act,  and  at  least  to  the  end  of  the  struggle  with  France. 
The  very  upsurge  of  British  interest  in  empire,  aroused  by  the 
victorious  course  of  the  Seven  Years'  War,  came  at  the  wrong  time 



as  far  as  the  thirteen  colonies  were  concerned.  These  fast-growing 
communities  were  already  feeling  restrained  by  British  imperial 
controls,  especially  those  on  trade.  The  defeat  of  the  French  em- 
pire seemed  to  remove  much  of  the  necessity  of  accepting  British 
authority.  Hence  Britain's  attempt  to  tighten  and  strengthen  the 
bonds  of  empire  after  the  war  ran  counter  to  a  rising  spirit  of 
American  nationalism,  though  the  colonists  did  not  yet  call  it  by 
that  name.  The  clashes  over  the  enforcement  of  British  laws  of 
trade  in  the  colonies,  the  closing  of  the  western  lands,  the  rising 
argument  over  the  right  of  Britain  to  tax  in  America,  all  aroused 
this  American  national  spirit.  The  colonists  claimed  at  first  only 
to  seek  the  full  rights  of  Englishmen;  but  finally  they  demanded 
liberty  and  independence — that  is,  the  right  to  establish  a  nation 
of  their  own. 

The  Revolutionary  War  broke  out  in  1775;  and  the  thirteen 
colonies  meeting  in  the  Continental  Congress  hoped  that  Quebec 
and  Nova  Scotia  would  join  in  the  fight  for  freedom.  Yet  the 
northern  provinces  did  not  join  in.  Why  did  they  not  enter  the 
Revolution?  Why  had  they  remained  British  at  its  end?  Was  it 
merely  chance,  or  the  fortunes  of  war?  To  some  extent  it  was 
both.  But  it  was  also  the  fact  that,  although  parts  of  a  single 
American  empire,  these  provinces  had  viewpoints  and  interests 
different  from  those  of  the  thirteen  colonies.  Quebec  was  plainly 
different  in  character;  Nova  Scotia  less  clearly  so.  The  question 
of  revolution  did  not  arise  in  the  outlying  dependencies  of  New- 
foundland and  Rupert's  Land.  But  in  the  two  main  northern  pos- 
sessions, while  there  were  grievances  against  the  British  authori- 
ties, the  forces  working  against  revolution  were  far  stronger. 

In  Nova  Scotia  there  was  naturally  much  sympathy  for  the 
American  revolutionaries  among  the  New  Englanders  who  formed 
the  bulk  of  the  population;  and  there  was  a  brief  attempt  in  Cum- 
berland County,  in  1776,  to  bring  about  a  rising.  In  general, 
however,  the  Nova  Scotian  Yankees  sought  to  remain  neutral  in 
the  conflict.  They  would  not  fight  against  their  American  kins- 



men,  but  since  geography  kept  Nova  Scotia  apart  in  a  lonely 
corner  of  the  continent  they  felt  equally  "unwilling  to  fight  for  an 
American  cause  that  seemed  remote  and  far-off.  Nor  was  theirs 
a  strange  stand,  when  a  majority  of  the  Americans  still  regarded 
themselves  as  subjects  of  King  George  III,  though  much  aggrieved, 
and  when  about  one-third  of  the  people  in  the  thirteen  colonies 
were  largely  neutral  during  the  Revolution. 

Furthermore,  few  of  the  American  grievances  applied  to  Nova 
Scotia.  The  closing  of  western  lands  did  not  affect  this  colony, 
which  had  enough  empty  acres  of  its  own.  Government  policies 
were  fairly  moderate  and  any  quarrels  were  largely  local.  Above 
all,  the  British  mercantile  system  seemed  less  a  hindrance  than  a 
help.  Weak  Nova  Scotia  was  not  a  Massachusetts,  ready  to  stand 
on  its  own  feet  in  world  trade.  It  needed  protected  British  im- 
perial markets  and  had  no  desire  to  throw  off  the  British  trading 

Even  beyond  this,  as  a  British  naval  base,  Nova  Scotia  thrived 
during  the  war  on  supplying  the  imperial  forces.  And  with  the 
Royal  Navy  ranging  the  seas  about  Nova  Scotia  and  dominating 
this  near-island,  there  was  little  chance  of  any  successful  rising, 
as  George  Washington  himself  stiffly  admitted.  Finally,  there 
was  the  ascendancy  of  loyal  Halifax  over  Nova  Scotia;  the  power 
of  the  Halifax  oligarchy,  and  the  weakness  of  the  assembly  where 
a  radical  movement  might  otherwise  have  centred.  It  was  by  no 
means  mere  chance  that  this  maritime  colony  remained  in  the 
British  empire  during  the  great  Revolution. 

At  first  glance,  the  case  of  Quebec  might  seem  even  clearer, 
since  the  overwhelmingly  Catholic  French  population  had  little 
love  for  the  Protestant  Americans,  their  old  foes,  nor  for  their 
democratic  ideas.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  they  might  seek  this 
opportunity  to  throw  off  their  British  masters.  And  the  Quebec 
Act,  far  from  cementing  French  loyalty,  had  weakened  it.  The 
powerful  merchant  group  was  also  angered  by  the  Act.  Thus  the 
case  of  Quebec  is  not  as  simple  as  at  first  it  seems  to  be. 



The  merchants'  dislike  of  the  Quebec  Act  arose  naturally  from 
its  rejection  of  British  institutions.  But  why  the  French  discon- 
tent? The  seigneurs  and  clergy  were  undoubtedly  satisfied  with 
the  measure,  but  the  mass  of  the  people  were  not  pleased  by  the 
legal  enforcement  of  tithes  and  the  renewing  of  their  seigneurial 
bonds.  Both  tithes  and  seigneurial  duties  had  been  somewhat  re- 
laxed since  the  British  regime  began,  so  that  the  habitant  had 
begun  to  think  of  escaping  them.  Now,  therefore,  a  few  habitants 
even  listened  to  American  democratic  ideas  and  later  joined  the 
revolutionary  cause.  The  bulk  of  them  did  not.  They  remained 
quiet  under  British  rule,  but  they  would  not  actively  support  it, 
though  their  clergy  urged  them  to  do  so.  Alas,  for  Carleton's 
hopes  of  a  devoted  French  Canadian  army!  As  the  aristocrat  he 
was,  he  had  over-estimated  the  power  of  the  seigneurs  to  com- 
mand, and  had  ignored  the  feelings  of  the  ordinary  people  in  his 

The  merchants  of  the  province,  however,  whom  he  distrusted, 
turned  out  instead  to  be  strangely  loyal.  True,  there  were  many 
of  them  from  the  American  colonies,  some  of  whom  at  first  openly 
sympathized  with  the  colonial  grievances.  Yet  life  on  the  St  Law- 
rence seemed  to  work  some  spell  that  turned  even  these  against 
the  American  side.  The  truth  was,  that  as  the  inheritors  of  the 
French  St  Lawrence  fur  empire  these  merchants  were  now  in 
competition  with  the  American  traders  to  the  south.  Men  from 
Albany  were  now  firmly  opposed  to  the  Albany  trade  of  the  Hud- 
son valley.  The  great  St  Lawrence  trading  system,  the  core  of  the 
Quebec  colony,  inevitably  turned  its  masters  against  union  with 
the  American  provinces,  and  directed  Canada,  French  or  British, 
to  seek  a  separate  destiny  in  North  America.  Then  again,  the 
commerce  of  Quebec  fitted  as  closely  as  Nova  Scotia's  within  the 
empire.  The  market  for  Quebec's  vital  fur  trade,  the  source  of  its 
trade  goods,  lay  in  Britain,  to  which  the  St  Lawrence  route  had 
now  been  tied.  There  was  certainly  no  reason  in  this  province  to 
seek  to  escape  the  imperial  trading  system. 



The  thirteen  colonies  nevertheless  hoped  to  gain  Quebec;  by 
force,  if  not  by  persuasion.  Nova  Scotia  might  be  out  of  the  grasp 
of  the  continental  colonies,  but  Quebec  was,  as  always,  open  to 
attack  by  land.  In  1775  an  American  army  moved  north  from 
New  York  along  the  historic  Richelieu-River  invasion  route,  to 
add  a  fourteenth  colony  to  the  provinces  in  revolt.  As  in  1690, 
1711,  and  1759,  Canada  was  once  more  under  attack  from  the 
south,  though  now  the  British  flag  flew  over  the  northern  colony 
and  a  new  flag  in  the  old  English  provinces.  Yet  the  key  point  is 
this :  that  geography  and  history  had  again  determined  that,  what- 
ever the  flags  might  be,  there  should  be  two  different  banners 
waving  above  Quebec  and  New  York. 

Weakly  defended  Montreal  fell  quickly  to  the  American  inva- 
ders, and  Carleton,  failing  to  gather  his  hoped-for  grand  Canadian 
army,  was  besieged  in  Quebec  during  the  winter  of  1775-6.  The 
American  forces  from  Montreal  were  joined  by  others  which  had 
grimly  struggled  through  the  Maine  wilderness  to  Quebec.  But 
their  strength  was  still  insufficient  to  reduce  the  city's  fortifica- 
tions, vigorously  defended  by  Carleton.  In  the  spring,  as  once 
before,  sea-power  turned  the  tables.  A  British  fleet  came  up  the 
river  with  ten  thousand  men  and  the  Americans  retreated.  They 
did  not  return  again.  Sea  power  had  shown  too  plainly  that  it 
could  function  in  Quebec  as  well  as  Nova  Scotia,  and  so  keep 
Canada  under  British  control. 

Meanwhile  the  experience  of  living  under  an  invading  army, 
and  having  to  accept  an  almost  valueless  American  paper  money, 
had  revived  the  habitant's  anti-American  memories.  After  the 
invasion,  he  was  more  determined  not  to  go  over  to  the  American 
side,  and  his  clergy  and  seigneurs,  thankful  for  the  Quebec  Act, 
worked  to  strengthen  that  feeling.  Hence  arose  the  paradox  that 
in  some  degree  Quebec  stayed  British  because  it  was  French;  that 
is,  because  French  Canada  did  not  want  to  become  American, 
This  feeling  among  French  Canadians  continued  as  the  Revolu- 
tion went  on,  and  endured  long  after  the  fighting  ceased.  When 



peace  returned  in  1783,  although  the  British  empire  had  lost  the 
thirteen  colonies,  it  kept  sure  possession  of  Quebec  and  Nova 
Scotia,  and  in  them,  as  well  as  in  Newfoundland  and  Rupert's 
Land,  it  held  the  basis  for  a  new  empire  in  North  America. 

4    The  Coming  of  the  Loyalists 

The  peace  made  in  1783,  the  Treaty  of  Versailles,  not  only  had 
to  recognize  the  establishment  of  the  United  States;  it  had  to 
wind  up  the  affairs  of  the  old  united  British  American  empire. 
These  involved  questions  of  boundaries,  fishing  rights,  and  the 
fate  of  the  large  faction  in  the  thirteen  colonies  who  had  supported 
the  British  side — the  'Tories'  of  American  history,  the  'Loyalists' 
of  Canadian. 

Now  that  the  continent  was  to  be  divided  between  the  new 
American  republic  and  the  remaining  colonies  of  British  North 
America,  the  peace  treaty  had  to  fix  a  final  line  of  separation.  By 
the  close  of  the  war,  the  British  had  gained  ground  down  the 
Atlantic  coast,  and  still  dominated  the  Ohio  country  that  had  been 
attached  to  Quebec  by  the  Quebec  Act.  But  in  part  a  shaken  faith 
in  the  value  of  American  possessions,  in  part  a  desire  for  a  lasting 
settlement,  led  Britain  to  accept  the  boundary  line  of  the  St  Croix 
river  on  the  Atlantic  coast;  and,  in  the  west,  to  give  up  title  to  the 
lands  south  of  the  Great  Lakes.  Nevertheless  this  border  would 
cause  difficulties  in  future.  In  the  east,  it  would  do  so  because  the 
line  above  the  St  Croix,  along  the  Appalachian  ridges  between 
Quebec  and  New  England,  was  vaguely  drawn  through  unknown 
country.  In  the  west,  trouble  would  arise  because  the  lands  that 
had  been  yielded  cut  in  half  the  fur-trade  kingdom  of  the  St 
Lawrence,  which  still  controlled  the  Ohio  wilderness. 

With  regard  to  fisheries,  the  Americans  in  their  colonial  days 
had  been  used  to  fishing  in  the  waters  of  the  Gulf  of  St  Lawrence 
and  to  drying  their  catch  on  shore.  The  New  Englanders  had  built 
up  a  powerful  interest  in  these  northern  inshore  fisheries.  It 
would  have  been  hard  now  to  keep  them  out.  On  the  insistence 



of  the  United  States,  Britain  granted  in  the  peace  treaty  the  right 
of  Americans  to  continue  to  fish  inshore  within  British  North 
American  waters,  and  to  dry  their  catch  on  unsettled  mainland 
coasts.  This  arrangement,  whether  necessary  or  not,  represented 
a  continual  invasion  of  the  Canadian  Atlantic  fisheries,  and  was 
also  to  breed  future  difficulties  between  the  United  States  and  the 
British  North  American  colonies. 

Most  significant  for  Canada,  however,  was  the  question  of  the 
Loyalists  in  the  Treaty  of  Versailles.  It  had  been  asserted  by 
John  Adams,  American  revolutionary  leader  and  later  President, 
that  as  much  as  one-third  of  the  population  of  the  thirteen  colonies 
had  favoured  the  British  cause;  perhaps  another  third  had  actively 
supported  the  Revolution.  At  any  rate,  over  fifty  Loyalist  Ameri- 
can units  had  fought  on  the  British  side,  and  at  least  a  hundred 
thousand  Loyalists  were  finding  life  hi  the  United  States  so  un- 
bearable at  the  close  of  the  conflict  that  they  were  ready  to 

These  British  sympathizers  found  life  unbearable  in  America 
because  the  bitter  feelings  roused  by  the  war  had  brought  them 
under  repeated  persecutions.  No  doubt  the  persecutions  would 
have  been  reversed,  had  they  won;  but  those  on  the  losing  side, 
which  was  quite  heavily  weighted  with  the  upper  classes  and 
richer  members  of  society,  had  their  homes  pillaged,  their  proper- 
ty confiscated  and  their  persons  attacked.  Mobs  cried  after  them 
and  laws  gave  them  very  little  protection. 

Britain  tried  to  secure  protection  for  the  Loyalists  in  the  terms 
of  the  peace  treaty,  but  because  the  American  Congress  had  not 
yet  much  power  over  the  states  composing  the  young  republic, 
all  the  United  States  could  agree  to  do  was  to  recommend  to  the 
state  governments  that  a  good  deal  of  Loyalist  property  be  re- 
stored and  further  seizures  be  halted.  In  the  angry  mood  of  the 
time,  this  recommendation  was  almost  completely  ignored  by  the 
citizens  of  the  republic.  Then  it  was  that  Loyalists  began  to  leave 
the  country  in  large  numbers,  and  Britain  recognized  that  the  least 



that  could  be  done  was  to  give  aid  to  these  people  who  had  fought 
to  preserve  a  united  empire. 

Of  the  Loyalist  emigrants,  about  a  third  returned  to  Britain  and 
others  went  to  the  West  Indies  or  Spanish  Florida.  Yet  up  to  forty 
thousand  of  them  turned  north  to  Quebec  and  Nova  Scotia.  The 
main  movement  to  Nova  Scotia  went  by  sea  from  the  city  of  New 
York,  which  was  held  by  the  British  until  the  end  of  the  war. 
There  in  the  closing  stages  of  the  conflict  Loyalist  refugees  and 
soldiers  gathered,  well  aware  that  their  days  in  the  former  thirteen 
colonies  were  numbered.  In  the  spring  of  1 783  the  British  authori- 
ties at  New  York,  then  commanded  by  Sir  Guy  Carleton,  arranged 
a  mass  migration  to  Nova  Scotia.  During  that  year,  whole  fleets 
of  ships  carried  nearly  thirty  thousand  Loyalists  to  the  province, 
in  vessels  crammed  with  men,  women  and  children,  and  their 
chests  of  clothes  and  furnishings,  their  damask  table-cloths  and 
china  tea-cups,  treasured  reminders  of  a  life  that  had  gone  forever. 

These  Nova  Scotia  Loyalists  came  generally  from  the  long- 
settled  coastal  areas  of  the  American  provinces.  There  was  a  large 
element  of  educated  and  formerly  wealthy  people  among  them. 
Now  they  were  suddenly  flung  into  a  raw  frontier  colony,  and 
many  of  them  into  the  empty  forests.  No  wonder  that,  despite 
government  aid  in  land  grants,  provisions,  and  tools,  harsh  suffer- 
ing and  bleak  despair  were  often  in  their  midst.  Some  gave  up5 
and  drifted  back  to  the  United  States  or  moved  on  to  Britain. 
Some  sought  to  be  government  hangers-on,  and  maintained  a 
threadbare,  unreal  snobbery  in  minor  official  posts.  Others  col- 
lapsed frankly  into  ruin.  But  despite  all  the  detractions  from  the 
Loyalist  story,  which  are  often  too  easily  made  to-day,  this  firm 
core  of  fact  remains :  that  the  mass  of  them  fought  through  the 
bitter  times  and  met  the  stern  challenge  of  the  hard  northern  land. 
They  built  a  new  age  for  Nova  Scotia. 

The  population  of  the  province  during  the  Revolution  had  been 
only  about  17,000.  Almost  double  that  number  were  added  to  it3 
swallowing  the  older  'neutral  Yankee'  elements  in  an  ardently 



Loyalist  mass.  The  influx  of  professional  men  and  cultivated 
people  meant  that  this  strengthened  colony  also  advanced  un- 
usually rapidly  from  an  unlettered  frontier  state  to  one  of  com- 
paratively high  standards  of  learning  and  culture.  At  the  same 
time  a  new  province,  wholly  Loyalist  in  character,  came  into 
being.  So  many  Loyalists  had  settled  on  the  northern  shore  of 
the  Bay  of  Fundy,  remote  from  the  centre  of  government  at 
Halifax,  that  this  area  was  marked  off  from  the  peninsula  of  Nova 
Scotia  and  set  up  in  1784  as  the  separate  province  of  New  Bruns- 
wick. Saint  John  became  its  main  port,  Fredericton,  up  the  Saint 
John  river,  its  capital. 

The  Loyalist  movement  to  Quebec  was  smaller  and  of  a  differ- 
ent kind  than  that  into  Nova  Scotia,  yet  it  was  quite  as  significant. 
Only  about  ten  thousand  came,  some  by  water  from  Nova  Scotia. 
Yet  many  others  moved  overland,  trudging  on  foot,  their  few  pos- 
sessions, saved  from  angry  mobs,  piled  in  rough  carts.  In  winter 
they  travelled  by  snow-shoe,  dragging  sleighs  through  the  deep 
drifts.  And  so  the  determined  little  army  came,  north  by  Lake 
Champlain  and  the  Richelieu  river,  or  through  the  dark  Iroquois 
country  to  the  upper  St  Lawrence  and  the  Canadian  shores  of 
Lake  Ontario.  Some  journeyed  to  the  far  end  of  Lake  Ontario, 
crossing  at  Niagara  below  the  mighty  Falls.  Most  of  the  Iroquois 
themselves,  who  had  fought  for  the  British  during  the  Revolution, 
removed  to  Canada  and  were  settled  west  of  Lake  Ontario  on  large 
reservations.  The  white  settlers  were  placed  in  three  main  areas, 
all  of  them  well  to  the  west  of  the  old  St  Lawrence  farmlands  of 
New  France :  in  the  Niagara  peninsula,  around  the  Bay  of  Quinte 
on  Lake  Ontario,  and  along  the  upper  St  Lawrence  between  that 
lake  and  Montreal. 

The  Loyalists  who  entered  the  province  of  Quebec  (which 
then,  of  course,  included  the  region  of  the  Great  Lakes)  were 
largely  drawn  from  loyal  American  regiments,  together  with  their 
families,  or  they  were  often  frontier  farmers  from  the  back- 
country  regions  of  the  American  colonies.  They  were  better  fitted 



than  Loyalist  town-dwellers  who  went  to  Nova  Scotia  for  life  in 
the  wilderness,  although  at  the  same  time  they  brought  less  learn- 
ing and  leadership  with  them.  Quebec's  Governor,  Haldimand, 
set  up  a  base  camp  at  Sorel,  between  Montreal  and  Quebec,,  and 
from  here  transported  many  Loyalist  parties  to  settle  in  groups 
along  the  upper  St  Lawrence,  granting  them  land  and  supplies  as 
in  Nova  Scotia.  Yet  this  Quebec  migration  had  much  in  common 
with  the  normal  advance  of  the  frontier  in  North  America  into 
new  lands.  It  began  while  the  Revolution  was  still  in  progress  and 
did  not  really  stop  thereafter.  The  earlier  parties  of  Loyalists  came 
to  Quebec  because  of  their  British  sympathies  and  to  avoid  perse- 
cution; but  the  later  groups  increasingly  came  in  order  to  obtain 
land.  After  the  war  Loyalists  in  Canada  might  write  to  friends  in 
the  United  States  who  had  not  yet  broken  away,  telling  them  of 
the  free  grants  of  good  land  given  to  the  supporters  of  King 
George.  In  time,  those  who  came  to  Canada  might  not  be  cLate* 
Loyalists  at  all,  but  typical  land-hungry  American  frontiersmen, 
part  of  the  westward-moving  flood  of  settlement,  which  here  had 
overflowed  the  bounds  of  the  United  States. 

Though  the  original  Loyalists  in  western  Quebec  were  at  length 
outnumbered  by  the  later  American  settlers,  they  still  remained  of 
crucial  importance.  These  Loyalists  would  form  the  backbone  of 
western  resistance  in  a  second  war  with  the  United  States,  the 
War  of  1812.  They  were  the  original  founders  of  the  present  prov- 
vince  of  Ontario,  and  did  much  to  mould  its  character.  On  one 
hand  they  brought  to  Canada  a  conservative  outlook,  a  quick  dis- 
trust of  any  new  idea  that  might  be  called  republican,  and  a  readi- 
ness to  make  loyalty  the  test  for  almost  everything.  On  the  other, 
they  themselves  represented  a  declaration  of  independence  against 
the  United  States,  a  determination  to  live  apart  from  that  country 
in  North  America.  As  a  result,  they  helped  to  create  not  only  a 
new  province,  but  a  new  nation. 

The  western  Loyalists,  despite  their  better  preparation,  had  to 
face  the  hardships  of  wilderness  life  as  did  those  of  Nova  Scotia. 



There  were  times  of  near-starvation,  times  of  grim  fortitude,  as 
they  planted  between  the  stumps  of  forest  clearings  and  struggled 
to  raise  the  first  crops.  But  after  the  'hungry  year5  of  1789,  the 
western  settlements  took  firm  root  and  began  to  flourish.  In  con- 
sequence the  same  question  was  raised  here  as  in  Nova  Scotia. 
Should  this  newly  settled  area,  remote  from  the  Quebec  capital, 
be  erected  into  a  new  province?  In  the  case  of  Quebec,  moreover, 
there  were  greater  problems  than  distance  to  consider.  Few 
Loyalists  had  settled  in  the  French-speaking  regions  of  Quebec; 
in  particular,  because  they  did  not  like  the  seigneurial  system  of 
land  holding.  In  the  western  country  they  held  their  farms  as 
they  had  in  the  old  colonies.  Besides,  the  language,  customs,  and 
religion  of  Quebec  were  not  theirs;  and  under  the  Quebec  Act 
they  did  not  find  the  representative  system  of  government  which 
they  had  always  known. 

Accordingly,  in  1791,  the  old  province  of  Quebec  was  divided 
in  half  to  meet  the  changed  conditions;  for  despite  Carleton's 
earlier  arguments,  Canada  was  no  longer  wholly  French.  The 
Constitutional  Act  of  1791  replaced  Quebec  by  two  provinces  of 
Upper  and  Lower  Canada.  The  western  province  of  Upper 
Canada  was  English-speaking  and  received  English  law  and  in- 
stitutions. It  would  become  the  modern  province  of  Ontario. 
The  eastern  and  mainly  French-speaking  province  of  Lower 
Canada  (the  present  Quebec),  kept  seigneurial  tenure,  French 
law,  and  the  privileges  of  the  Catholic  church  granted  by  the 
Quebec  Act.  Representative  government,  however,  was  now  es- 
tablished in  both  the  Canadas. 

The  Constitutional  Act  signalized  a  new  beginning  for  Canada. 
The  British  North  American  colonies  were  starting  to  take  definite 
form;  the  age  of  the  Revolution  was  drawing  to  a  close.  Yet  the 
American  Revolution  had  been  almost  as  important  for  Canada 
as  it  had  for  the  United  States.  In  fact,  by  dividing  the  continent, 
it  created  modern  Canada  no  less  than  it  created  the  American 
republic.  Furthermore,  the  Loyalists  of  the  Revolution  brought 




















to  those  colonies  that  had  remained  British  a  population  that 
wanted  whole-heartedly  to  stay  British.  The  Loyalists  began  to 
build  a  Canada  that  was  not  predominantly  French.  Modern 
English-speaking  Canada  really  goes  back  to  them3  and  to  the 
Revolution  that  drove  them  out.  In  a  sense  the  American  Revo- 
lution itself  really  answered  that  old  problem  of  1763 — of  how  to 
make  Canada  thoroughly  a  part  of  the  British  empire. 


NORTH  AMERICA,  1791-1821 

I    Constitutional  Changes  and  the  Second  Empire 

By  1791  the  reorganization  of  the  British  possessions  in  America 
made  necessary  by  the  shattering  blow  of  the  American  Revolu- 
tion, was  fairly  well  complete.  The  colonies  of  the  northern  half 
of  the  continent  were  being  refitted  into  a  Second  British  Empire; 
British  North  America  was  settling  into  shape.  While  Newfound- 
land and  Rupert's  Land  continued  much  as  they  had  been  from 
the  old  empire,  the  newly  populated  provinces  of  Quebec  and  Nova 
Scotia  had  been  carved  into  several  units.  The  former  had  been 
divided  into  Upper  and  Lower  Canada,  and  from  the  latter  four 
provinces  had  been  created.  Besides  New  Brunswick  and  a  smaller 
Nova  Scotia,  these  included  the  colonies  of  Prince  Edward  Island 
and  Cape  Breton.  Cape  Breton  was  reattached  to  Nova  Scotia  in 
1820.  The  three  other  maritime  provinces  remained  in  existence, 
as  they  do  to-day. 

This  division  of  the  old  northern  provinces  reflected  a  new 
imperial  policy,  one  that  was  not  only  due  to  the  desires  of  the 
Loyalists,  but  arose  as  well  from  the  whole  reaction  of  the  British 
authorities  to  the  American  Revolution.  The  new  governments 
constructed,  the  provisions  of  the  Constitutional  Act  of  1791,  were 
largely  shaped  by  what  Britain  thought  were  the  lessons  of  the 
American  Revolution.  As  Canada  had  been  brought  into  the  First 
Empire  under  a  general  plan  of  unifying  the  American  posses- 
sions, so  it  entered  the  Second  under  a  rather  disillusioned  policy 
of  keeping  colonies  small  and  dependent.  'Divide  and  rule'  was 
the  principle. 

The  general  British  view  of  empire  had  not  really  changed 
following  the  American  Revolution.  In  time,  it  is  true,  develop- 



merits  largely  within  Britain  made  political  leaders  there  doubt 
the  value  of  a  dependent  empire.  Then,  indeed,  the  American 
Revolution  was  pointed  to  as  proving  that  colonies  were  bound 
to  grow  towards  independence,  and  that  control  of  their  trade  was 
unwise  and  unnecessary.  But  for  some  time  after  the  Revolution 
British  authorities  still  accepted  the  old  mercantilist  ideas  of  em- 
pire, under  which  colonial  government  had  to  be  subjected  to 
imperial  authority  and  colonial  trade  had  to  be  made  to  flow  in 
certain  fixed  channels.  The  'Old  Colonial  System5  of  subject  col- 
onies regulated  by  imperial  laws  of  trade  by  no  means  disappeared 
from  the  Second  Empire  after  1783. 

As  far  as  official  policy  was  concerned,  therefore,  the  lesson  of 
the  American  Revolution  was  not  that  mercantilist  restraints  and 
imperial  control  over  colonial  governments  had  led  to  clashes  and 
finally  to  disaster.  It  was  instead  that  the  Revolution  had  arisen 
from  too  much  strength  in  the  American  colonies  and  too  much 
self-government  there.  Colonies  should  be  kept  small,  and  hence 
dependent  on  Britain.  The  power  of  their  representative  assem- 
blies should  be  limited,  so  that  noisy  democracy  and  dangerous 
radicalism  could  not  grow  too  strong.  If  anything,  colonies  had  to 
be  more  fully  subjected  to  control  from  the  motherland. 

This  was  the  policy  applied  in  British  North  America  after  the 
Revolution.  But  there  were  redeeming  features.  There  was  much 
good  will  on  both  sides.  Britain  was  not  seeking  to  punish  or  keep 
down  rebellious  provinces  but  to  preserve  loyal  and  orderly  com- 
munities in  that  contented  state.  The  troublemakers,  so  to  speak, 
had  left  the  empire.  The  British  North  American  provinces,  and 
especially  the  Loyalists  within  them,  also  tended  to  agree  that 
democracy  and  too  much  self-government  were  dangerous.  For 
the  Loyalists,  democracy  raised  memories  of  armed  rebellion  and 
mob-violence.  The  provinces  looked  to  Britain  for  guidance,  and 
in  their  weakness  readily  accepted  a  state  of  dependence.  Further- 
more, far  from  quarrelling  with  imperial  control  of  trade,  they 
relied  on  the  British  trading  system  for  protected  markets  for 



their  products  and  for  aid  in  developing  their  commercial  life. 

The  colonists  of  British  North  America  themselves  represented 
a  rejection  of  the  ideas  behind  the  American  Revolution.  They 
stressed  loyalty,  not  liberty,  traditional  ties,  not  a  break  with  the 
past.  They  feared  the  power  of  the  new  United  States  and  trusted 
Britain.  Thus  they  were  easier  to  deal  with  than  the  old  American 
colonists,  who  had  been  only  too  conscious  of  their  own  strength 
and  put  no  special  weight  on  the  imperial  bond.  Accordingly,  the 
constitutional  changes  carried  out  after  the  Revolution  met  little 
opposition  in  the  British  provinces  and  for  a  generation  at  least 
gave  reasonably  satisfactory  government  to  British  North  America. 

The  division  of  old  Nova  Scotia  was  in  line  with  the  British 
policy  of  forming  small  colonies.  Prince  Edward  Island,  in  fact, 
had  been  set  up  by  itself  even  as  early  as  1769.  Representative 
government  was  applied  in  each  of  the  new  Maritime  provinces, 
except  for  under-populated  Cape  Breton,  where  a  governor  and 
council  ruled  alone.  In  Nova  Scotia  proper,  the  old  assembly  was 
simply  continued.  New  Brunswick  and  Prince  Edward  Island 
received  a  similar  system  of  governor,  council,  and  assembly.  But 
in  all  three  the  assembly  remained  weak.  This  was  particularly  so 
in  Prince  Edward  Island,  which  was  gradually  peopled  by  Loyal- 
ists and  pre-Loyalists  from  the  mainland,  because  the  island  was 
really  controlled  by  a  few  absentee  landlords  who  rented  their 
wide  acres  to  settlers  but  stayed  in  Britain.  In  New  Brunswick 
the  overwhelmingly  Loyalist  population  founded  a  tradition  of 
loyalty  and  obedience  to  authority  at  the  start;  so  that  the  elected 
assembly  was  a  docile  body,  content  to  leave  real  power  in  the 
hands  of  the  governor  and  his  appointed  council. 

Still,  the  fact  that  there  were  assemblies  in  these  Maritime 
provinces  showed  that  Britain  did  not  mean  to  withhold  the  rep- 
resentative form  of  government.  In  part  also,  the  presence  of 
assemblies  indicated  that  the  Loyalists,  however  loyal,  expected 
to  have  the  same  kind  of  constitution  as  they  had  been  accustomed 
to  in  the  old  colonies.  Those  who  came  to  Quebec  had  similar 



expectations.  There  was  also  the  problem  of  taxation  to  be  dealt 
with.  Britain  had  indeed  learned  during  the  Revolution  not  to 
try  to  tax  colonies  against  their  will.  Assemblies  would  be  needed 
to  grant  taxes,  in  order  that  colonies  might  meet  the  costs  of  their 
own  government. 

For  these  reasons  the  Constitutional  Act  of  1791,  while  carrying 
out  the  policy  of  divide  and  rule,  provided  for  elected  assemblies 
in  both  Canadas.  This  provision,  to  some  extent,  also  brought 
final  success  to  the  merchants  of  Quebec  in  their  long  agitation 
for  representative  government,  though  they  did  not  want  the 
colony  divided.  They  had  pressed  their  case  vigorously,  once  the 
Revolution  had  showed  the  failure  of  the  Quebec  Act  policy;  and 
Carleton,  now  Lord  Dorchester,  who  had  returned  to  Quebec  as 
governor,  no  longer  had  the  same  faith  in  his  old  ideas.  According- 
ly the  unrepresentative  government  of  the  Quebec  Act  was  readily 
brought  to  an  end,  although  the  special  rights  it  had  granted 
remained  to  give  French  Canada  its  separate  character.  The 
French  could  sit  in  the  new  Lower  Canadian  assembly;  and  this 
they  speedily  came  to  control,  since  the  main  body  of  English 
settlers  now  fell  within  the  borders  of  Upper  Canada— something 
the  merchants  had  not  at  all  intended. 

The  Constitutional  Act  also  applied  the  British  policy  that 
aimed  at  restraining  the  representative  or  popular  element  in 
government.  The  same  form  of  government  was  provided  for 
both  the  Canadas.  There  was  to  be  a  governor-general  over  both 
of  them,  with  nominal  authority,  rarely  exercised,  over  all  British 
North  America.  Upper  and  Lower  Canada  were  each  to  have  a 
lieutenant-governor,  an  executive  council,  a  legislative  council  and 
a  legislative  assembly.  The  assembly's  control  of  the  purse  was 
to  be  more  limited  than  in  the  old  colonies,  so  that  it  could  not 
restrain  the  governor  in  the  same  way.  Hence  the  assembly  had 
far  less  power. 

But  the  chief  limitation  on  the  assembly's  power  was  meant  to 
lie  in  the  two  appointed  councils  set  over  it.  The  executive  council 



was  not  new.  It  was  simply  the  old  council,  the  group  of  the 
governor's  advisors  chosen  by  him  to  carry  on  the  chief  tasks  of 
government.  But  now  there  was  a  legislative  council  as  well,  an 
upper  house  in  the  colonial  parliament,  whose  members  were 
appointed  for  life  and  were  beyond  the  control  of  the  assembly 
or  the  people.  Without  the  consent  of  this  legislative  council  no 
laws  could  pass.  It  was  meant  to  be  a  colonial  House  of  Lords, 
to  check  democratic  or  radical  tendencies  in  the  assembly.  The 
legislative  and  executive  councils  gradually  came  to  contain  many 
of  the  same  men,  often  early  Loyalist  leaders  who  had  received 
large  land  grants.  They  formed  a  closed  and  compact  official  body, 
or  oligarchy,  about  the  governor  who  controlled  the  province, 
leaving  the  assembly  to  be  little  more  than  a  debating  club. 

In  further  attempts  to  strengthen  authority  and  to  weaken  the 
'popular'  element,  the  Constitutional  Act  also  envisaged  setting 
up  a  colonial  aristocracy  and  an  established  church.  The  former 
scheme  was  never  carried  out — the  thought  of  backwoods  dukes 
pitching  hay  was  too  much — but  the  latter  was  effected  in  the 
provision  for  clergy  reserves.  In  either  province,  so  the  Act  ran, 
an  amount  equal  to  one-seventh  of  the  public,  or  crown,  lands 
granted,  should  be  reserved  in  order  to  create  a  fund  for  the  sup- 
port of  ca  Protestant  clergy'.  This  for  some  years  was  taken  to 
mean  the  clergy  of  the  state  Church  of  England.  Through  this 
clause,  and  later  additions,  the  Anglican  Church  became  a  power- 
ful state-endowed  body  in  Canada,  where  it  worked  on  the  side  of 
the  governors  and  the  conservative  ruling  groups  against  any 
radical  tendencies  among  the  mass  of  the  colonists. 

The  clergy  reserves  and  the  restrictions  on  the  power  of  the 
assembly  were  to  spell  much  trouble  in  future,  but  a  few  good 
words  may  be  said  on  leaving  the  Constitutional  Act  and  the 
policy  it  expressed.  'Divide  and  rule,'  had  at  any  rate  more  reason 
in  the  Canadas  than  in  the  Maritimes.  In  the  Canadas  two  very 
different  communities  had  developed.  The  French  in  the  east 
would  not  willingly  have  yielded  their  law  and  their  special  rights 



by  the  Quebec  Act.  The  Loyalists  of  the  west  above  all  wanted  to 
establish  English  forms  of  law  and  to  escape  the  seigneurial  sys- 
tem. Indeed,  the  line  drawn  between  Upper  and  Lower  Canada, 
when  they  were  created,  ran  along  the  boundary  of  the  farthest 
western  seigneury.  It  would  at  least  have  been  hard  to  have  kept 
these  two  Canadas  together,  however  beneficial  it  might  have 
proved  in  the  long  run. 

As  for  the  'anti-democratic'  tendencies  of  the  Constitutional 
Act,  the  inhabitants  of  the  Canadas  were,  up  to  the  War  of  1812, 
on  the  whole  content  to  leave  most  of  the  powers  of  government 
in  the  hands  of  a  small  group  of  leading  men  in  church  and  state. 
The  French  authoritarian  tradition  in  Lower  Canada,  Loyalism 
in  Upper  Canada,  helped  to  make  the  colonists  accept  this  state 
of  affairs.  Upper  Canada,  moreover,  was  still  too  backward  and 
thinly  populated  to  be  much  interested  in  governing  itself  or  to 
question  the  rule  of  an  oligarchy.  Furthermore,  the  ruling  oli- 
garchy might  represent  the  educated  and  public-spirited  few  as 
well  as  the  office-seekers  and  parasites.  Given  goodwill,  and  the 
weak  state  of  the  Canadas  in  the  first  period  after  the  American 
Revolution,  the  Constitutional  Act  could  function  without  grave 
difficulty.  For  the  same  reasons,  the  somewhat  restrictive  policy 
of  the  Second  Empire  did  not  really  create  trouble  for  British 
North  America  during  this  early  period. 

2    The  Rising  Colonies  of  British  North  America 

By  1791  the  British  North  American  colonies  were  beginning 
to  advance  within  the  framework  of  the  Second  Empire  and  to 
work  out  patterns  of  life  which  would  remain  much  the  same  till 
the  coming  of  railways,  steamships  and  the  factory  age.  In  the 
western  half  of  the  continent,  beyond  the  Canadas,  a  new  kingdom 
of  the  fur  trade  was  arising;  a  world  in  itself,  it  will  be  left  for  later 
discussion.  In  the  east,  Newfoundland  was  still  under  naval 
governorship,  without  representative  institutions,  but  the  resident 
fishery  was  steadily  growing.  The  island  held  about  15,000  people 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

by  the  closing  years  of  the  eighteenth  century.  Seal  hunting  began 
to  emerge  as  a  supplement  to  the  cod  fishery. 

The  Maritime  provinces  were  slowly  emerging  as  prosperous 
communities  dependent  on  the  sea :  on  its  fisheries  and  on  its  com- 
merce. There  was  not  much  immigration  to  this  region  after  the 
Loyalist  wave  had  swept  over  it,  although  some  Highland  Scots 
did  come  to  Nova  Scotia,  Cape  Breton,  and  Prince  Edward  Island 
thereafter.  There  were  probably  about  80,000  inhabitants  in  the 
Maritime  provinces  by  the  end  of  the  century,  and  the  very  lack 
of  a  constant  stream  of  new  immigrants  allowed  these  English- 
speaking  communities  to  become  more  closely  knit  and  relatively 
more  mature  than  Upper  Canada  in  the  same  period. 

The  comparative  lack  of  immigrants  arose  from  the  fact  that  the 
Maritimes  had  less  space  and  less  fertile  land  to  offer  to  settlers 
than  Upper  Canada.  In  this  realm  of  the  sea  and  the  forest, 
farming  was  not  as  important  as  fishing,  shipping,  and  lumbering^ 
except  in  little  Prince  Edward  Island.  But  on  sea  and  forest  the 
Maritimes  successfully  founded  their  way  of  life.  Shipbuilding 
developed  to  complement  the  rapidly  rising  fishing  industry  of 
Nova  Scotia.  Lumbering,  especially  in  the  upland  forests  of  New 
Brunswick,  supplied  the  timbers  for  ship  building.  Nova  Scotian 
vessels  entered  the  British  West  Indies  trade,  carrying  dried  cod- 
fish and  lumber  to  the  sugar  islands. 

It  seemed  that  the  Maritime  provinces  would  come  to  fill  the 
role  in  the  Second  Empire  that  New  England  had  played  in  the 
First;  that  is,  of  furnishing  the  British  West  Indies  with  necessary 
supplies  while  the  islands  concentrated  on  sugar  production.  The 
Maritimes,  however,  proved  a  weak  replacement  for  New  England. 
They  could  not  supply  sufficient  foodstuffs,  apart  from  fish. 
Nevertheless,  because  they  were  parts  of  the  British  empire  they 
were  in  a  privileged  trading  position.  The  mercantilist  British 
Navigation  Acts  decreed  that  empire  commerce  should  be  kept 
for  empire  ships.  Therefore  the  Maritimes  were  protected  from  a 
good  deal  of  American  competition  in  the  British  West  Indies. 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

Thanks  to  the  laWs  of  the  Old  Colonial  System,  Nova  Scotia  in 
particular  built  up  a  thriving  trade  by  sea,  especially  after  1806, 
when  bad  relations  between  Britain  and  the  United  States  further 
cut  down  American  competition  in  the  protected  imperial 

New  Brunswick  was  more  concerned  with  lumbering  and  ship- 
building than  fishing  and  seafaring,  though  each  province  shared 
some  of  the  other's  main  interests.  When  the  imperial  government 
gave  a  preference  to  British  North  American  timber  in  the 
British  market  after  1794,  New  Brunswick  lumbering  was  en- 
couraged. During  the  Napoleonic  Wars,  moreover,  the  preferen- 
tial rate  for  colonial  timber  was  greatly  increased,  because  Britain 
wanted  a  sure  supply  of  ship  timber  for  the  Royal  Navy  that  would 
be  far  from  embattled  Europe.  As  a  result,  New  Brunswick  em- 
barked on  a  lumber  boom.  Each  winter  armies  of  lumbermen, 
who  were  often  farmers  in  the  summer,  invaded  the  forests  and 
set  up  camps.  They  cut  out  the  straight,  lofty  tree  trunks  that 
were  floated  down  the  St  John  and  Miramichi  rivers  in  the  spring 
in  broad  rafts  of  giant,  square-hewed  beams.  On  reaching  the 
coast  the  big  'sticks'  were  loaded  through  large  ports  at  the  stern 
of  specially  built  lumber  ships,  to  lie  the  full  length  of  the  vessel 
in  the  voyage  across  the  Atlantic. 

Clearly,  these  Maritime  provinces  of  British  North  America 
were  flourishing  within  the  Second  Empire,  and  largely  because 
of  the  trade  preferences  and  protection  supplied  by  the  Old  Colo- 
nial System.  The  Canadas  were  similarly  advancing  within  the 
imperial  framework.  The  timber  trade  with  Britain  developed  in 
the  St  Lawrence  valley  as  well  as  hi  the  Maritimes,  and  lumbering 
cleared  the  land  for  settlers  as  well  as  providing  a  valuable  cash 
crop.  Square-timber  rafts  were  floated  downstream  from  Lake 
Ontario  to  Montreal  and  Quebec.  The  fine  stands  of  trees  in  the 
Ottawa  valley  became  a  leading  source  of  forest  wealth.  By  1800 
lumbering  had  joined  the  fur  trade  as  one  of  the  main  or  staple 
activities  of  the  Canadas.  Moreover,  as  the  land  was  cleared 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

in  Upper  Canada  a  new  staple,  wheat,  began  to  develop. 

The  French  Canadian  farms  of  Lower  Canada  generally  grew 
crops  for  home  use  only,  but  the  rich  new  lands  of  Upper  Canada 
early  began  to  produce  a  supply  of  grain  for  sale  in  Britain. 
Again,  the  Napoleonic  Wars,  having  largely  cut  Britain  off  from 
European  grain  fields,  created  a  market  for  this  British  North 
American  product.  For  some  years  after  1800,  however,  the  mar- 
ket was  very  uncertain,  and  so  was  the  crop.  Still  the  foundations 
of  the  future  Canadian  granary  had  been  laid.  And  as  the  three 
main  exports  of  the  Canadas,  furs,  lumber  and  grain,  were  tied  to 
the  British  market,  so  these  colonies,  like  the  Maritimes,  depended 
on  the  imperial  trading  system  for  their  well-being. 

Settlement  continued  to  flow  into  the  Canadas  from  the  United 
States  after  1791.  In  that  year  the  two  provinces  contained  approx- 
imately 180,000  inhabitants,  of  whom  only  about  14,000  lived  in 
Upper  Canada.  By  the  time  of  the  war  of  1812  there  were  over 
90,000  people  in  Upper  Canada  and  more  than  330,000  in  Lower 
Canada.  In  the  latter  case,  however,  the  growth  was  mostly  due 
to  the  natural  increase  of  the  French-speaking  population.  Only 
about  9,000  Americans  had  come  there,  settling  chiefly  in  the 
Eastern  Townships  south  of  the  St  Lawrence  and  mingling  with 
earlier  Loyalist  elements. 

While  some  settlers,  principally  Highland  Scots,  had  come  to 
Upper  Canada  from  Britain,  the  great  British  immigration  did 
not  begin  until  after  1820.  Thus  during  this  first  period  of  British 
North  America,  when  the  American  frontier  movement  was  spil- 
ling over  the  border  into  Canada,  Upper  Canada  became  almost 
an  American  community,  only  about  a  quarter  of  which  was 
Loyalist  in  origin.  Yet  far  from  fearing  this  situation,  John  Graves 
Simcoe,  the  first  lieutenant-governor  of  the  province,  busily  en- 
couraged American  immigration.  Simcoe,  leader  of  the  famed 
Queen's  Rangers  in  the  Revolution,  himself  looked  down  on 
American  republicanism  and  revered  the  British  constitution, 
whose  'image  and  transcript',  he  said,  had  been  granted  Upper 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-182! 

Canada  in  the  Constitutional  Act.  Yet  he  had  great  faith  in  the 
power  of  an  oath  of  allegiance  and  a  generous  land  grant  to  con- 
vert Americans;  or  perhaps  he  was  carried  away  by  his  eagerness 
to  see  Upper  Canada  populated.  Still,  it  was  not  too  difficult  for 
men  who  had  earlier  in  their  lives  been  subjects  of  King  George 
III  to  come  back  to  that  allegiance.  The  sense  of  nationality 
had  not  yet  hardened  in  the  United  States,  especially  in  the  back- 
woods from  which  these  'new  subjects'  came. 

Under  Simcoe's  energetic  guidance  roads  were  begun  in  Upper 
Canada,  and  a  provincial  capital  founded:  York,  the  future 
Toronto.  The  roads  were  little  more  than  forest  trails;  traffic  con- 
tinued to  go  mostly  by  water.  York,  established  in  1793,  though 
graced  with  little  brick  parliament  buildings,  was  still  only  a 
village  in  1812.  It  was  not  yet  a  leading  commercial  centre  and 
was  noted  chiefly  for  its  mud.  Nevertheless  this  new  western 
province  of  Upper  Canada  had  made  the  most  rapid  progress  of 
any  in  British  North  America. 

Lower  Canada  had  also  advanced.  Montreal  was  now  the  chief 
city  of  British  North  America,  with  a  population  of  some  30,000 
by  the  War  of  1812.  Here  the  wealthy  rulers  of  the  fur  trade 
dwelt  in  their  stone  mansions,  while  lumber  merchants  tended 
to  gather  in  Quebec.  In  these  cities,  as  in  St  John  and  Halifax, 
powerful  groups  of  merchants  had  arisen,  men  who  carried  on 
business  on  a  large  scale.  There  was  nothing  small  about  their 
business  activities,  although  they  were  in  young  colonies,  because 
the  staple  trades  of  British  North  America  demanded  large-scale 
organization  to  bear  the  high  cost  of  carrying  goods  to  the  far-off 
markets.  As  well  as  the  merchants,  the  leading  towns  held  the 
governing  officials  and  the  officers  of  the  garrison.  Altogether 
they  formed  a  little  upper-class  society  which  copied  the  ceremony, 
dress,  and  customs  of  the  courtly  British  aristocracy.  In  sharp 
contrast  to  this  society  was  the  rude  frontier  world  of  the  Upper 
Canada  clearings,  the  unchanging  country  existence  of  the  Lower 
Canadian  habitants,  the  rough  life  of  New  Brunswick  lumber 






BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

camps,  or  the  isolation  of  the  little  Nova  Scotia  fishing  villages  in 
their  lonely  rocky  coves. 

The  differences  between  the  lives  of  the  town  and  the  country 
would  be  reflected  in  the  politics  later  of  British  North  America. 
In  any  case,  however,  by  the  time  that  the  colonies  had  to  face 
their  next  great  test  in  the  War  of  1812,  they  had  emerged  as  small 
but  solidly  established  communities,  each  with  its  own  special 
character,  although  the  main  distinctions  lay  between  the  pro- 
vinces of  the  sea,  the  French  lands  of  the  St  Lawrence,  and  the  new 
frontier  farming  province  of  the  interior. 

3    Danger  on  the  Western  Border 

From  the  Treaty  of  Versailles  in  1783  until  the  outbreak  of  a 
second  war  with  the  United  States  in  1812,  the  western  border  of 
young  Canada  was  never  secure.  Trouble  arose  in  the  lands  south 
of  the  Great  Lakes;  in  the  Ohio  country  which  had  been  officially 
granted  to  the  United  States  in  1783,  but  which  had  remained 
tied  to  the  St  Lawrence  fur  trade.  The  final  consequence  was  open 
war.  The  trouble  began  almost  with  the  signing  of  peace  in  1783, 
when  Britain  quickly  came  to  regret  the  ready  surrender  of  so 
much  of  the  West,  and  sought  at  least  to  delay  its  transfer  to  the 
United  States. 

The  chief  reasons  for  delay  arose  from  the  fur  traders  and  the 
Indians  who  were  still  the  masters  of  the  unsettled  Ohio  West. 
The  Canadian  fur  merchants  of  the  St  Lawrence  drew  most  of 
their  trade  from  that  country,  and  they  asked  that  the  transfer  be 
postponed  for  two  years  until  they  could  adjust  their  business  to 
this  heavy  loss.  The  Indians  supplied  the  major  reason,  however. 
They  declared  that  they  had  been  ignored  in  the  Treaty  of 
Versailles  and  that  Britain  had  handed  over  their  lands,  which 
they  had  never  ceded,  to  the  United  States.  There  was  danger 
that  if  the  West  was  transfsrred  and  opened  to  American  settle- 
ment the  Indians  would,  in  revenge,  attack  the  thinly  held  and 



almost  unprotected  British  settlements  in  Upper  Canada. 

Taking  advantage  of  vague  wording  in  the  peace  treaty,  there- 
fore, the  British  held  on  to  the  military  and  trading  posts  in  the 
West  below  the  Lakes,  giving  as  their  reason  the  failure  of  the 
Americans  to  carry  out  the  term  of  the  treaty  that  called  for  the 
restoration  of  Loyalist  property.  It  was  a  sound  reason,  but  not 
the  chief  one  for  failing  to  transfer  the  West. 

This  situation  dragged  on  into  the  1790'$,  while  the  Americans 
feared  that  the  British  were  arousing  the  Indians  against  them, 
and  the  British  feared  lest  the  Indians  should  become  aroused. 
Dorchester,  as  governor,  darkly  expected  a  new  war  with  the 
United  States,  and  had  some  hope  of  building  an  Indian  state  in 
the  Ohio  country  that  would  stand  between  the  Americans  and  the 
Upper  Canadian  frontier  and  help  to  protect  the  latter.  The 
Americans,  meanwhile,  were  pressing  forward  from  the  region 
south  of  the  Ohio,  and  sending  forces  against  the  Indians  in  order 
to  break  their  hold  on  the  western  country.  In  1794  one  of  these 
expeditions  completely  defeated  the  tribes  at  the  battle  of  Fallen 
Timbers,  and  hope  of  an  Indian  'buffer  state*  collapsed.  The  tribes 
ceded  their  lands  to  the  United  States. 

In  1794  as  well,  Britain  and  the  United  States  at  last  reached  a 
settlement  by  Jay's  Treaty.  Britain  agreed  to  surrender  the 
western  posts  by  1796,  while  the  United  States  agreed  to  allow 
British  traders  still  to  enter  the  West,  and  promised  to  handle  the 
Loyalist  claims  more  effectively.  Yet  the  western  troubles  were 
not  ended.  Though  the  posts  were  transferred,  the  Indians  con- 
tinued to  come  to  posts  on  the  Canadian  side  to  trade.  The 
British  gave  them  supplies,  still  in  an  effort  to  keep  their  friend- 
ship and  to  prevent  their  attacking  Upper  Canada  in  the  event  of 
a  war  with  the  United  States.  Americans  believed,  as  a  result,  that 
the  British  were  forming  an  armed  alliance  with  the  Indians 
against  the  republic.  At  the  same  time  American  fur  traders,  who 
earlier  had  not  been  able  to  compete  effectively  against  the 
Canadians  in  the  Ohio,  had  managed  to  have  the  British  right  of 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

free  entrance  for  trading  restricted  until  it  was  almost  meaningless. 
The  strain  was  increasing. 

Other  disputes  added  to  it.  At  sea,  Britain's  life-and-death 
'struggle  with  Napoleon  after  1802  had  led  to  decrees  of  blockade 
and  counter-blockade.  In  an  effort  to  prevent  war  supplies  reach- 
ing French-controlled  Europe,  Britain  was  stopping  and  searching 
neutral  vessels  at  sea,  including  American  ships.  British  warships 
were  also  seizing  suspected  deserters  from  the  Royal  Navy  aboard 
American  craft,  often  on  uncertain  evidence  and  in  high-handed 
fashion.  The  Americans  protested  against  the  right  of  search,  and 
finally  tried  to  cut  off  all  their  trade  with  the  warring  countries  in 
Europe  in  order  to  force  a  settlement.  The  attempt  did  not  suc- 
ceed. Instead  the  quarrel  over  the  right  of  search  embittered  feel- 
ings between  the  United  States  and  Britain.  It  even  led  to  a  battle 
between  the  British  ship  Leopard  and  the  American  Chesapeake 
in  1807,  and  made  the  two  nations  look  towards  war. 

The  rapidly  advancing  western  states  of  the  American  union 
made  good  use  of  the  growing  warlike  spirit  in  the  republic.  They 
held  that  the  place  to  punish  Britain  was  in  Canada.  Filled  with 
the  forceful  confidence  and  expansive  drive  of  the  frontier  they 
wanted  to  add  Canada  to  the  American  union:  a  Canada  which 
American  frontier  settlement  had  already  invaded.  Was  not  Upper 
Canada  by  now  practically  an  American  state?  The  'war  hawks'  of 
the  American  West  clamoured  for  an  easy  conquest.  Their  chance 
seemed  to  arrive  in  1811. 

In  that  year  the  western  Indians,  being  steadily  pushed  back 
by  advancing  American  settlement,  attempted  a  last  stand.  Led 
by  the  chief  Tecumseh,  they  formed  a  league  to  resist  further  in- 
roads. The  Americans  saw  this  as  the  threat  of  a  new  Pontiac 
uprising,  of  savage  Indian  raids  on  the  frontier.  They  attacked  the 
Indians,  and  by  their  victory  at  the  battle  of  Tippecanoe,  destroyed 
Tecumseh's  league.  Yet  the  American  West  was  not  satisfied.  It 
was  fully  convinced  that  the  British  had  been  behind  the  Indians, 
although  the  Canadian  government  had  actually  sought  to  keep 



the  Indian  league  at  peace.  It  seemed  that  the  West  would  only 
be  safe  when  the  British  had  been  driven  out  of  Canada.  The  war 
hawks  cried  for  blood,  the  American  frontier  wanted  new  lands 
to  conquer,  and  the  American  East  was  newly  aroused  by  fresh 
skirmishes  over  the  right  of  search.  The  United  States  declared 
war  in  June,  1812,  and  set  out  to  capture  Canada. 

4    The  Second  Struggle  with  the  Americans 

The  War  of  1812  in  British  history  is  only  a  side-show,  not 
altogether  successful,  during  the  huge  and  victorious  contest  with 
Napoleon.  In  United  States  history  it  is  a  second  war  of  indepen- 
dence, chiefly  against  the  weight  of  British  sea-power.  In  Cana- 
dian history  it  is  above  all  a  land  war,  a  second  struggle  against 
American  invasion.  All  these  pictures  are  partly  true;  and  in 
studying  the  Canadian  version  one  must  bear  in  mind  that  it 
portrays  only  the  War  of  1812  as  it  affected  Canada.  Yet  for  Canada 
the  war  was  vitally  important;  far  more  important  than  it  was  for 
Britain,  and  much  more  dangerous  than  it  was  for  the  United 

British  North  America  faced  a  foe  that  outnumbered  it  ten 
to  one  and  was  much  further  advanced  in  civilization.  Nor  did 
British  support  level  the  scales,  for  there  were  less  than  5,000 
British  troops  in  Canada  at  the  start  of  the  war  and  no  reinforce- 
ments could  be  spared  from  the  greater  conflict  in  Europe  until 
close  to  the  end  of  the  fighting.  Fortunately  for  the  British  colon- 
ies, the  United  States  never  gathered  its  full  strength  against  them, 
since  the  republic  was  much  divided  over  the  war  and  by  no  means 
solidly  behind  it.  Furthermore  bad  planning  and  unwise  use  of 
the  American  forces  helped  to  balance  the  sides.  Even  so,  it  was 
a  heavy  task  for  the  few  regulars  and  the  limited  militia  to  defend 
the  thinly-settled,  spread-out  northern  colonies. 

The  war  was  fought  chiefly  in  the  Canadas.  On  the  Atlantic 
coast  British  sea  power  kept  the  Maritime  provinces  secure.  In 
any  case  their  New  England  neighbours  were  not  disposed  to 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

attack,  for  New  England  did  not  support  a  war  that  cut  off  most 
of  its  overseas  trade.  In  the  Maritimes,  therefore,,  the  War  of  1812 
meant  chiefly  profitable  privateering  ventures  against  American 
ships,  which  added  to  the  legends  and  traditions  of  a  seafaring 
people;  though  a  New  Brunswick  Loyalist  regiment  did  make  a 
notable  winter  march  overland  through  the  wilderness  to  fight  in 
Canada,  arriving  without  losing  a  man. 

The  Americans  attempted  to  carry  the  war  into  Lower  Canada. 
They  made  efforts  against  Montreal  in  1813  and  1814,  but  these 
expeditions  were  not  powerful  enough,  nor  well  led,  and  they  were 
thrown  back  at  Chateauguay  and  Lacolle.  Instead  of  concentrat- 
ing on  capturing  Montreal,  which  would  have  cut  Canada  in  two 
and  certainly  have  doomed  Upper  Canada,  the  United  States 
wasted  its  forces  in  invading  the  outflung  western  province,  slash- 
ing away  at  the  branch  instead  of  cutting  through  the  trunk. 

Yet  the  reasons  for  this  concentration  on  Upper  Canada,  if  not 
militarily  sound,  were  plain  enough.  This  weakly-held  province 
was  closest  to  the  warlike  American  West.  It  lay  in  the  path  of 
the  American  frontier  and  seemed  fated  to  join  the  Union.  And, 
particularly  in  the  western  half,  Upper  Canada  was  full  of  Ameri- 
can sympathizers  or,  at  least,  recent  American  immigrants  who 
were  indifferent  to  British  rule.  In  these  dangerous  circumstances, 
Upper  Canada  largely  survived  because  of  undecided  American 
leadership  and  strong  and  successful  British  command  at  the 
outset  of  the  war. 

Though  the  American  forces  ranged  against  Upper  Canada 
were  large  in  comparison  with  those  of  its  defenders,  the  quarrels 
among  the  attacking  troops  and  their  incompetent  generals  (until 
late  in  the  war)  were  worth  at  least  several  regiments  of  British 
regulars  to  Canada.  And,  on  the  other  hand,  in  General  Isaac 
Brock  the  British  troops  had  a  commander  worth  several  more 
regiments.  The  keen-minded  Brock  knew  well  the  wavering  sym- 
pathies of  a  large  part  of  the  people  of  Upper  Canada,  and  saw  that 
only  rapid  and  resolute  action  could  fix  them  on  the  British  side. 


BRITISH   NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

Working  with  the  fur  traders,  he  struck  quickly  at  the  key 
western  post  of  Michilimackinac  and  took  it  by  surprise.  The 
American  fur-trade  West  again  fell  into  British  hands,  the  Indians 
came  in  on  the  British  side,  and  the  whole  American  frontier  was 
in  danger  of  Indian  attack.  The  British  held  Michilimackinac 
throughout  the  war,  giving  the  Canadian  fur  trade  a  last  brief 
reign  over  much  of  the  American  West  that  had  been  lost  to  it. 

Meanwhile  the  Indian  peril  raised  by  the  British  western  vic- 
tory, and  Brock's  own  bold  advance  on  Detroit,  brought  the 
American  commander  there  to  surrender  his  much  larger  army, 
with  which  he  had  been  about  to  invade  Canada.  Brock  then 
turned  to  repel  another  American  invasion  at  Niagara,  and  fell  in 
the  battle  of  Queenston  Heights  which  drove  off  this  assault.  He 
had  commanded  only  from  June  to  October  of  1812,  yet  he  did 
much  to  decide  the  war.  There  were  no  Americans  in  Canada  at 
the  end  of  the  year;  the  American  dream  of  easy  conquest  had 
been  shattered. 

But  far  more  than  that,  the  British  successes  under  Brock,  es- 
pecially the  surrender  at  Detroit,  had  really  ended  the  danger  of 
Upper  Canada  going  over  to  the  Americans.  The  Loyalists,  of 
course,  the  backbone  of  the  militia,  were  as  always  sternly  deter- 
mined not  to  fall  again  under  American  control.  Now,  however, 
the  open  supporters  of  the  United  States  had  been  driven  out  and 
the  indifferent  majority  in  Upper  Canada  had  swung  away  from 
the  American  side  because  they  realized  that  Upper  Canada  was 
not  going  to  fall  as  easily  as  had  been  forecast.  Later  experiences 
with  American  armies  on  Upper  Canadian  soil  made  these  people 
view  the  United  States  forces  as  invaders,  not  liberators.  By  the 
end  of  the  war  it  would  have  been  hard  to  tell  that  the  emphatic- 
ally *loyaT  inhabitants  of  Upper  Canada  had  not  all  been  so 
emphatic  in  the  past. 

Of  course,  the  war  was  not  over  because  Upper  Canada  had 
become  definitely  anti-American.  Two  more  years  of  changing 
tides  of  battle  followed,  years  of  invasions  and  repulses.  The  little 



capital  of  York  was  captured  and  its  parliament  buildings  burnt 
in  an  American  raid;  but  each  time  the  main  attacks  were  halted 
and  the  invaders  flung  back  by  regulars,  militia,  and  Indians. 
Late  in  1814,  reinforced  at  last,  the  British  began  their  first  major 
offensives,,  attacking  by  sea  on  the  Atlantic  coast,  south  from 
Montreal  and  Lake  Champlain,  and  finally  at  New  Orleans.  The 
raids  from  the  sea  were  successful,  and  the  capitol  at  Washington 
was  burnt  as  York's  had  been;  but  the  attacks  on  New  Orleans 
and  Lake  Champlain  failed.  Apparently  the  British  forces  could 
do  no  better  in  someone  else's  country  than  the  Americans  could. 
Thus  the  war  ended  late  in  1814  in  a  stalemate,  which  was  prob- 
ably a  good  thing  for  future  peace. 

It  was  not  completely  a  stalemate.  Britain  still  held  the  West 
and  some  of  the  Maine  coast,  and  the  British  naval  blockade  was 
strangling  American  commerce.  But  in  the  peace  negotiations  the 
Americans  made  clear  their  readiness  to  go  on  fighting  rather  than 
yield  territory.  Faced  with  a  revival  of  Napoleon's  power  in 
Europe  at  that  very  moment,  Britain  did  not  press  the  point.  As 
a  result  the  Treaty  of  Ghent  of  1814  simply  stopped  the  fighting, 
restored  the  pre-war  boundaries,  and  said  little  about  the  prob- 
lems that  had  caused  the  conflict. 

Nevertheless  in  the  next  few  years  many  of  these  problems  dis- 
appeared. The  question  of  the  right  of  search  ended  with  the 
Napoleonic  Wars,  and  vanished  in  the  long  years  of  peace  after 
1815.  The  Indian  problem  declined  as  American  settlement  filled 
in  the  old  West;  the  tribes  had  been  too  weakened  by  the  war  to 
offer  any  further  resistance.  The  American  war-hawks  had  found 
Canada  no  willing  mouthful,  and  the  United  States  was  turning 
away  to  expand  in  a  new  direction,  towards  the  south. 

Moreover,  the  Rush-Bagot  Convention  of  1817  and  the  Con- 
vention of  1818  further  made  for  peace  on  the  border  between 
British  North  America  and  the  United  States.  The  former  de- 
clared that  no  more  large  war  vessels  should  sail  the  Great  Lakes. 
This  agreement  was  reached  mainly  to  forestall  a  naval  building 



race.  In  later  years  it  helped  lead  to  an  unfortified  frontier,  since, 
without  warships,  naval  bases  and  forts  to  defend  them  could  also 
be  dispensed  with  on  the  Lakes.  But  the  era  of  peaceful  relations 
between  the  United  States  and  Canada  is  often  too  readily  dated 
back  to  this  bare  beginning.  In  the  twenty  years  following  the 
Rush-Bagot  Convention,  Upper  Canada's  greatest  border  fortress 
was  built:  Fort  Henry,  at  Kingston,  preserved  to-day  with  all  its 
heavy  masonry  and  old-fashioned  cannon  as  a  memory  of  the  bad 
old  days  along  the  boundary. 

The  Convention  of  1818  sought  to  settle  other  outstanding 
difficulties  between  the  United  States  and  British  North  America. 
First,  it  defined  the  boundary  line  more  fully,  extending  it  from 
the  Lake  of  the  Woods,  beyond  the  Great  Lakes,  to  the  Rocky 
Mountains  along  the  forty-ninth  parallel.  From  there  to  the 
Pacific,  the  empty  land,  the  so-called  'Oregon  country,5  was  left 
jointly  in  the  hands  of  Britain  and  the  United  States  for  a  term 
of  years.  The  border  in  the  far  West  would  thus  have  to  be  settled 
in  future;  and  in  the  east  the  Convention  did  not  redefine  the 
old  vague  line  of  the  St  Croix  and  Appalachians,  leaving  another 
problem  for  later  settlement.  The  Convention,  however,  did  some- 
what limit  the  fishing  rights  of  Americans  in  British  North  Ameri- 
can waters  under  the  Treaty  of  1783. 

Thanks  to  these  Conventions,  and  to  the  passage  of  time,  British 
North  America  by  1820  was  on  far  more  solid  footing  on  the  con- 
tinent than  it  had  been  before  the  War  of  1812.  It  had  come 
through  the  perilous  second  struggle  with  the  Americans  success- 
fully; and  had  even  advanced  towards  settled,  if  not  yet  friendly, 
relations  with  the  United  States.  Meanwhile  the  war  had  not 
interrupted  the  steady  growth  of  the  British  colonies.  The  war, 
indeed,  had  meant  a  trade  boom  in  the  Maritimes  and  prosperity 
for  the  St  Lawrence  fur  trade.  Nor  had  it  done  any  great  damage 
in  Upper  Canada.  One  advantage  of  a  pioneer  community  is  that 
there  is  not  as  much  to  destroy  or  to  rebuild. 

Yet  the  war  had  left  lasting  marks.  Pride  in  the  successful 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

defence  against  invasion  had  planted  the  roots  of  Canadian  nat- 
ional feeling.  Both  British  and  French  Canada  had  shared  fully 
in  that  defence.  The  French-Canadian  militia  had  turned  back 
the  Americans  at  Chateauguay  and  Lacolle,  as  the  English-Cana- 
dians had  at  Crysler's  Farm  and  Queenston  Heights.  French 
Canada  had  been  active  in  this  war,  as  it  had  not  been  in  the 
American  Revolution,  largely  because  the  benefits  of  the  Quebec 
Act,  combined  with  representative  government,  were  now  much 
appreciated.  The  French  realized  that  they  would  not  enjoy  their 
special  rights  of  law  and  religion  in  the  American  republic.  Be- 
sides., the  French  Revolution  had  destroyed  the  old  Catholic  feudal 
France  from  which  Quebec  had  sprung.  French  Canada,  as  a 
result,  had  even  favoured  Britain  in  its  wars  with  the  revolution- 
ary and  irreligious  French  republic. 

The  War  of  1812  thus  tended  to  bring  British  North  America 
together  and  strengthened  the  bond  with  Britain.  Any  common 
feelings  among  the  colonists,  however,  were  largely  directed 
against  the  United  States.  This  anti- American  spirit  was  still  a 
narrow  basis  on  which  to  build  a  Canadian  nationalism.  Anti- 
Americanism  was  particularly  evident  in  Upper  Canada.  Further 
American  settlement  was  largely  prevented  there,  and  American 
settlers  already  in  the  province  were  in  danger  of  persecution — 
the  Loyalists*  case  in  reverse — if  their  declarations  of  British  sen- 
timents were  not  loud  enough.  Nevertheless,  on  the  whole  these 
reactions  to  the  strain  of  the  War  of  1812  were  understandable; 
and  not  an  extreme  price  to  pay  for  the  survival  of  British  North 

5    The  Kingdom  of  the  Fur  Trade 

While  the  settlements  of  British  North  America  were  slowly 
forging  ahead,  and  struggling  through  the  War  of  1812,  far  to  the 
west  the  Canadian  fur  trade  was  winning  a  vast,  wild  kingdom 
that  stretched  to  the  Arctic  and  Pacific  oceans.  This  was  a  realm 
much  larger  than  the  old  territory  of  Rupert's  Land  around  Hud- 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA.,    1791-1821 

son  Bay;  it  covered  the  prairies  of  the  north-west,  and  crossed  the 
Rockies  to  the  Pacific  slopes.  And  the  whole  domain  was  subject 
to  the  St  Lawrence  fur  trade,  ruled  from  Montreal  by  the  North 
West  Company,  the  powerful  new  rival  of  the  Hudson's  Bay 

The  story  of  this  empire  of  the  north-west  begins  with  the 
arrival  of  the  English-speaking  merchants  in  the  old  province  of 
Quebec  after  1760.  These  merchants,  it  will  be  recalled,  had  taken 
over  the  St  Lawrence  fur-trading  system  of  New  France  and  made 
it  much  stronger,  thanks  to  their  higher  efficiency  and  greater  re- 
sources. To  the  south-west,  they  controlled  the  trade  of  the  region 
below  the  Great  Lakes,  the  Ohio  and  Mississippi  country.  To  the 
north-west,  beyond  the  Lakes,  they  reached  into  the  prairies,  ex- 
panding the  trade  which  the  French  had  begun  to  develop  under 
La  Verendrye. 

In  the  north-west,  of  course,  the  St  Lawrence  traders  came  into 
competition  with  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company,  as  the  French  had 
before  them.  But  now  the  men  from  the  St  Lawrence  could  also 
offer  the  cheaper  and  better  quality  English  trade  goods,  which 
had  been  such  an  advantage  of  the  Bay  Company  in  times  past. 
Because  the  traders  from  Canada  went  directly  to  the  Indians  as 
the  French  had  done,  they  could  cut  off  much  of  the  fur  traffic 
before  it  reached  the  posts  on  the  Bay.  Hence  the  north-west 
Canadian  fur  trade  flourished,  threatening  the  masters  of  Rupert's 
Land  as  never  before. 

Yet  for  some  time  after  1760  the  south-west  fur  trade,  which 
the  French  had  developed  more  fully,  remained  the  mainstay  of 
the  St  Lawrence  merchants.  When  in  1783,  however,  the  Treaty 
of  Versailles  ceded  the  lands  south  of  the  Great  Lakes  to  the  new 
American  republic,  the  south-west  trade  was  thrown  on  the  de- 
fensive. It  was  only  a  matter  of  time  till  the  United  States  took 
effective  control  of  the  Ohio  and  Mississippi  and  drove  the  Cana- 
dian traders  out.  Their  position  was  still  fairly  secure  until  the 
British  finally  gave  up  the  posts  south  of  the  Lakes  in  1796,  in 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

accordance  with  Jay's  Treaty.  Even  afterwards  the  St  Lawrence 
interests  managed  to  keep  a  large  part  of  the  south-west  trade,  and 
during  the  war  of  1812  largely  regained  control  of  their  old  realm, 
thanks  to  the  capture  of  Michilimackinac.  Then  the  Peace  of 
Ghent,  destroying  the  last  hopes  of  the  St  Lawrence  traders,  re- 
turned this  western  region  to  the  United  States.  But  the  Canadian 
south-west  trade  was  doomed  in  any  case  by  the  steady  advance 
of  American  settlement.  Settlers  always  spelt  the  end  of  forests 
and  furs. 

As  the  south-west  fell  away,  more  and  more  energy  was  turned 
to  developing  the  fur  trade  of  the  north-west,  where  opportunity 
for  expansion  seemed  almost  unlimited.  Even  before  the  Treaty 
of  1783  forecast  the  end  of  the  south-west  trade,  English-speaking 
adventurers  from  the  St  Lawrence  had  passed  far  beyond  the 
limits  reached  by  the  French  in  the  north  and  west.  The  French 
had  known  Lake  Winnipeg,  and  had  found  the  great  Saskatche- 
wan river  that  flows  across  the  prairies  into  that  lake.  But  in 
1778  Peter  Pond,  a  Yankee  merchant  come  to  Canada,  had  crossed 
from  the  Saskatchewan  to  the  Athabaska  river,  reaching  waters 
than  ran  northward  to  the  Arctic.  Soon  Canadian  traders  were 
eagerly  tapping  the  trade  of  the  fur-rich  Athabaska  country. 

A  young  Scotsman,  Alexander  Mackenzie,  took  up  Pond's  work 
at  Lake  Athabaska.  In  1789  he  journeyed  'down  north*  from  there, 
down  the  long  waterway  that  now  bears  his  name  to  its  mouth  on 
the  Arctic  ocean.  'River  Disappointment5  he  called  it,  because  he 
had  hoped  that  this  broad  stream  would  lead  through  the  western 
mountains  to  the  Pacific,  and  not  to  an  ice-filled  sea.  Yet  the 
Mackenzie  river  to-day  is  the  vital  trade  route  through  what  may 
be  the  last  great  Canadian  frontier. 

Mackenzie  still  hoped  to  find  a  way  to  the  Pacific,  that  would 
open  up  the  rest  of  the  north-west  of  the  continent  to  the  Canadian 
fur  trade,  and  would  perhaps  allow  the  far-flung  western  posts  to 
be  supplied  more  easily  by  sea,  by  way  of  the  Pacific  ocean.  In 
1793  he  turned  westward  from  Lake  Athabaska,  along  the  Peace 



river  into  the  heart  of  the  Rockies,  and  made  his  way  to  the  dan- 
gerous Fraser  that  flowed  out  on  the  other  side.  Finding  that 
roaring  river  too  difficult,  he  left  it  and  went  on  overland,  to  reach 
the  Pacific  at  Bella  Coola  inlet,  only  a  month  before  Captain 
George  Vancouver  arrived  there  by  sea  in  the  course  of  charting 
the  north-west  coast  for  the  British  navy.  On  a  rock  beside  the 
ocean  Mackenzie  painted  a  sign  in  vermilion  and  grease :  'Alexan- 
der Mackenzie,  from  Canada  by  land,  July  22,  1793'.  The  con- 
tinent had  at  last  been  spanned. 

Other  Canadian  explorers  and  traders  followed.  Simon  Fraser 
in  1808  traced  the  river  that  Mackenzie  had  left  down  to  the  sea, 
and  gave  his  name  to  it.  The  Fraser  valley  would  be  the  route  of 
Canadian  transcontinental  railways  in  a  later  age.  David  Thomp- 
son, in  1811,  followed  another  great  western  river,  the  Columbia, 
through  the  ranges  to  the  ocean  further  south.  He  uncovered  the 
whole  Columbia  water  system,  and  down  its  length  the  St  Law- 
rence traders  built  a  chain  of  posts  that  brought  bountiful  returns 
from  this  farthest  mountain  province  of  the  fur  trade  kingdom. 
The  Canadian  traders  obtained  such  a  hold  on  the  Columbia, 
indeed,  that  when  Americans  also  entered  the  Columbia  region, 
they  could  not  compete  successfully.  Thus  in  1813  John  Jacob 
Astor,  leader  of  the  American  Fur  Company,  sold  his  post,  'As- 
toria,' at  the  mouth  of  the  Columbia  to  the  Canadians,  and  left 
the  north-west  Pacific  region,  cthe  Oregon  country,'  as  part  of  the 
great  British  North  American  fur  preserve. 

This  rapid  conquest  of  the  western  half  of  the  continent,  this 
speedy  realization  of  the  hope  of  three  centuries,  to  find  the  way 
to  the  Pacific,  was  a  monument  to  the  daring,  skill,  and  fortitude 
of  the  Canadian  fur-traders;  both  the  English-speaking  leaders 
and  the  French-speaking  voyageurs  who  manned  their  canoes.  Yet 
it  was  also  a  sign  of  the  constant  need  of  the  fur  trade  to  expand  in 
the  face  of  competition;  to  get  behind  rivals,  and  find  rich  new  fur 
resources  that  would  bear  the  mounting  costs  of  the  ever-length- 
ening line  of  transportation  back  to  Montreal.  The  high  cost  of 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,,    1791-1821 

Fort  Chipewyan 

^"^  f?        Fort  Churchill  =3 

"      (H-B.) 


->      '     \  v          y 


BEFORE  1821 



transportation  had  early  led  the  St  Lawrence  traders  to  combine 
in  their  ventures  to  the  far  north-west.  In  1787  the  various  tem- 
porary partnerships  in  Montreal  were  merged  in  one  large,  loose 
— but  permanent — organization,  the  North  West  Company.  The 
North  West  Company  took  over  and  controlled  the  building  of 
the  St  Lawrence  fur-trade  kingdom  from  that  time  on.  Macken- 
zie, Fraser,  Thompson  and  many  other  bold  adventurers  were  its 
agents.  The  Company  constructed  a  great  transport  system  across 
the  continent,  based  on  the  waterways.  Heavy  supply  canoes 
travelled  regularly  from  Montreal  to  Fort  William  at  the  head  of 
the  Great  Lakes,  where,  every  summer,  the  'wintering  partners,' 
the  men  who  stayed  at  the  western  posts,  came  in  their  lighter 
craft  to  meet  the  Montreal  partners,  to  bring  their  furs  and  receive 
their  supplies  for  the  new  season. 

The  enterprise  and  efficiency  of  the  Nor'  Westers  soon  aroused 
the  Hudson's  Bay  Company.  As  early  as  1774,  the  threat  of  the 
traders  from  Canada  reaching  behind  them  to  the  west  led  the 
men  of  the  old  Company  to  break  with  the  long  successful  policy 
of  staying  on  the  Bay.  The  first  inland  Hudson's  Bay  post,  Cum- 
berland House,  was  founded  to  turn  the  trade  of  the  Saskatche- 
wan to  the  Bay.  But  then  the  Nor'  Westers  jumped  beyond,  into 
the  Athabaska  country.  Here  a  steady  struggle  for  furs  went  on, 
as  North  West  and  Bay  posts  were  built  almost  side  by  side.  The 
Bay  still  had  the  advantage  of  a  shorter  supply  route  to  salt  water. 
Thus  Mackenzie  sought  the  Pacific,  to  open  a  sea-supply  route  for 
the  North  West  traders.  When  the  Nor'  Westers  invaded  the 
Peace  Country  the  servants  of  the  Bay  again  followed,  and  so  the 
competition  went  on. 

For  a  time,  however,  the  most  violent  struggle  was  that  between 
the  North  West  Company  and  the  'New  North  West',  or  XY 
Company.  This  was  another  Montreal  organization,  largely  made 
up  of  traders  who  had  turned  from  the  declining  south-west 
trade.  After  much  ruinous  competition,  and  actual  bloodshed, 
the  XY  was  merged  into  the  North  West  Company  in  1804. 


BRITISH  NORTH  AMERICA,    1791-1821 

Nor'  Westers  and  Hudson's  Bay  Company  were  again  the  chief 
foes.  It  was  a  contest  between  the  trading  systems  of  the  Bay 
and  the  River. 

The  St  Lawrence  traders  had  the  advantage  in  timing  and 
enterprise.  They  moved  first,  on  almost  every  occasion,  getting 
behind  the  men  of  the  Bay.  Their  western  agents  showed  more 
enterprise,  because  they  were  profit-sharing  partners,  and  not 
company  servants  on  fixed  wages.  On  the  other  hand,  the  Bay 
had  the  long-run  advantage  of  geography  that  had  defeated  the 
French  on  the  St  Lawrence  in  days  before.  They  could  ship  their 
goods  from  Britain  to  York  Factory  on  Hudson  Bay  for  the  same 
cost  as  for  goods  sent  to  Quebec.  But  then  the  Bay  supplies  were 
half-way  across  the  continent,  while  the  Nor'  Westers  still  faced 
the  long  canoe  haul  from  Montreal.  Indeed,  the  Nor'  Westers 
had  been  forced  to  move  first  each  time,  to  press  on  westward,  in 
order  to  overcome  the  Bay  Company's  constant  advantage  of 
position.  When  there  was  no  more  west  to  advance  into,  when 
that  forward  movement  meant  only  ever-rising  costs,  then  the 
Nor'  Westers  faced  inevitable  defeat. 

It  came  finally  in  1821.  But  first  there  was  a  brief  episode  of 
open  war  that  led  quickly  to  the  final  collapse  of  the  Canadian  fur- 
trade  kingdom.  Lord  Selkirk,  a  rich  and  philanthropic  Scottish 
nobleman,  had  sought  to  relieve  the  suffering  of  dispossessed 
Scottish  farmers  by  settling  them  in  British  North  America.  When 
his  efforts  to  place  them  in  Prince  Edward  Island  and  Upper 
Canada  had  only  limited  success,  he  boldly  planned  to  start  a 
further  settlement  on  the  distant  north-western  prairies,  on  the 
Red  river  that  flows  into  Lake  Winnipeg.  The  Red  river  country, 
however,  lay  within  the  bounds  of  Rupert's  Land,  and  so  the 
Hudson's  Bay  Company  held  formal  title  to  the  land.  Of  course, 
this  title  had  not  at  all  stopped  the  Nor'  Westers  from  building 
posts  there  and  elsewhere  throughout  the  Rupert's  Land  claim,  as 
well  as  far  beyond  it. 

In  order  to  found  his  colony,  Selkirk  secured  a  controlling 



interest  in  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company.  He  bought  it  with  little 
trouble,  for  the  Bay  Company  was  also  hard  hit  by  the  ruinous 
fur  competition  and  only  too  glad  to  sell  stock.  In  1811  the  first 
Selkirk  settlers  came  out  to  York  Factory.  The  next  year  on  the 
fertile  prairies  they  began  the  little  colony  of  Red  river,  the  an- 
cestor of  the  present  province  of  Manitoba.  At  once,  however, 
they  had  to  face  the  bitter  hostility  of  the  Nor'  Westers.  The  Red- 
river  colony  lay  across  the  main  North  West  trade  routes  to  the 
west,  and  in  the  heart  of  the  buffalo  country  where  the  Company 
secured  the  pemmican  supplies  that  were  essential  for  feeding  its 
western  posts. 

The  Nor'  Westers  could  only  view  the  little  settlement  as  a 
Hudson's  Bay  attack  designed  to  destroy  their  transport  and  pro- 
vision system;  and  they  knew  only  too  well  that  settlers  were 
natural  enemies  of  the  fur  trade.  Hence  they  stirred  up  the 
French-speaking  half-breeds  of  the  Red  river,  the  Metis,  buffalo 
hunters  who  supplied  the  Nor'  Westers  with  pemmican.  Metis 
threats,  thefts,  and  acts  of  violence  against  the  settlers  that  were 
sharply  returned,  led  at  last  to  open  battle.  In  1816  occurred  the 
so-called  massacre  of  Seven  Oaks,  on  the  outskirts  of  the  modern 
city  of  Winnipeg,  where  twenty-one  colonists  were  killed,  includ- 
ing their  governor,  Semple. 

Selkirk  took  strong  action  to  defend  his  little  colony,  bringing 
in  some  disbanded  Swiss  soldiers  to  seize  Fort  William,  the  main 
interior  post  of  the  Nor'  Westers,  from  which  the  attacks  on  Red 
river  had  been  directed.  His  action  was  too  strong  in  fact.  Since 
it  was  quite  unauthorized,  it  led  to  a  series  of  law  suits  in  Canadian 
and  British  courts,  where  each  side  charged  the  other  with  unlaw- 
ful activities.  Meanwhile  Selkirk  had  restored  the  Red  river 
settlement.  Henceforth  it  grew  safely,  although  slowly,  until,  long 
after  the  fur  trade  had  passed  away,  a  new  age  of  railways  and 
wheat-farming  found  it  lying  across  the  gateway  to  the  prairies. 
Out  of  the  Red  river  forms  the  great  city  of  Winnipeg  at  last 



Selkirk  had  lost  his  health  and  his  fortune  in  law  suits  between 
the  North  West  and  Hudson's  Bay  Companies.  He  died  soon 
after,  while  in  1821  the  heavy  costs  to  both  companies  forced  them 
to  combine.  It  was  a  merger  and  not  a  complete  victory  for  the 
Bay,  since  North  West  men  and  money  went  into  the  new  com- 
bined company.  Yet  its  name  was  still  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company, 
and,  above  all,  it  operated  mainly  from  the  Bay  and  not  the  river. 
The  Montreal  merchants  had  to  find  new  trades  to  develop.  The 
fur  trade  which  had  done  so  much  to  raise  the  largest  city  in 
British  North  America  had  left  it,  and  returned  to  the  masters  of 
Rupert's  Land.  The  brilliant  but  short-lived  St  Lawrence  fur 
kingdom  was  no  more. 

Yet  it  too  had  left  a  lasting  mark  on  British  North  America. 
Montreal  and  the  St  Lawrence  merchants  would  not  decline,  but 
would  turn  to  richer  uses  the  wealth  and  the  trading  organization 
they  they  had  built  up  under  the  fur  trade.  A  new  colony  had 
meanwhile  been  born  in  the  prairies,  and  British  rule  had  been 
extended  to  the  Pacific,  to  provide  for  western  colonies  of  the 
future.  The  years  of  the  fur-trade  kingdom,  in  fact,  had  completed 
the  shaping  of  British  North  America  from  sea  to  sea. 



AND  THE  PIONEER  AGE,  1815-50 

I    The  Migration  from  Britain 

Following  the  War  of  1812,  an  age  in  the  movement  of  people 
into  British  North  America  came  to  an  end.  Since  the  fall  of  New 
France  the  main  flow  of  immigrants  to  Canada  had  been  from  the 
old  thirteen  colonies.  Whether  ardent  Loyalists  or  indifferent  re- 
publicans, most  of  the  English-speaking  settlers  in  this  period  had 
been  North  Americans  long  established  on  the  continent.  But 
now  the  American  immigration  by  land  largely  ceased,  and  was 
replaced  by  a  movement  by  sea,  from  Britain,  of  people  new  to 
North  America.  They  not  only  greatly  increased  the  population 
and  speeded  the  development  of  British  North  America;  they 
added  new  elements  to  its  society  and  did  much  to  mark  it  off 
further  from  the  American  republic. 

The  flow  of  American  settlement  died  away  after  1815  for 
various  reasons.  In  the  Maritimes,  of  course,  American  immigra- 
tion had  really  ended  with  the  Loyalist  influx,  and  it  had  never 
reached  Newfoundland.  Nor  had  it  been  large  in  French-speaking 
Lower  Canada,  whether  Loyalist  or  not.  But  in  Upper  Canada, 
which  had  received  the  greatest  number  of  settlers  from  the 
United  States,  the  anti-American  spirit  after  the  War  of  1812,  and 
new  enactments  preventing  Americans  obtaining  land  until  they 
had  been  residents  for  seven  years,  discouraged  further  migration. 
More  than  this,  however,  the  westward  movement  of  the  American 
frontier  by  now  had  carried  it  past  Upper  Canada.  The  frontiers- 
men of  the  United  States  saw  broader  fields  to  conquer  in  the 
opening  American  Middle  West. 

Meanwhile  new  conditions  had  arisen  across  the  Atlantic  that 
would  provide  a  stream  of  immigration  far  greater  than  British 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

North  America  had  yet  known.  Up  to  1815,  long  years  of  war  had 
kept  most  of  the  people  of  Britain  at  home.  The  dangers  of  war- 
time emigration  and  the  constant  need  for  man-power  during  the 
French  Revolutionary  and  Napoleonic  Wars  had  reduced  the 
movement  of  British  people  overseas  to  a  low  level.  Earlier,  the 
American  Revolutionary  War,  which  had  also  involved  fighting 
between  France  and  Britain,  had  had  the  same  effect.  But  after 
1815  an  era  of  peace  followed  in  Europe,  and  a  great  tide  of 
British  emigration  set  in,  to  fall  away  only  after  1850. 

Hard  times  as  well  as  peace  were  responsible  for  sending  people 
from  crowded  Britain  to  empty,  fertile  fields  overseas.  The  end  of 
the  Napoleonic  struggle  caused  sudden  depression  and  serious  un- 
employment. Although  times  gradually  improved,  the  very  speed 
of  industrial  change  in  Britain  continued  to  bring  strain  and  suffer- 
ing to  the  poorer  classes,  and  many  among  them  turned  their  eyes 
abroad  to  look  for  a  new  life.  Others  besides  the  poor  also  looked 
to  the  colonies,  attracted  by  stories  of  the  great  opportunities  to 
be  found  in  young  lands  crying  to  be  developed.  Accordingly, 
between  1815  and  1850,  though  mainly  from  1820  on,  British 
North  America  received  a  stream  of  settlers  from  Britain  that 
ebbed  and  flowed  but  never  really  stopped.  After  1850  the  gold 
rush  to  Australia  did  much  to  turn  the  ebbing  tide  to  the  Pacific 
colonies,  while  the  onset  of  mid- Victorian  prosperity  in  Britain 
about  the  same  time  finally  brought  this  first  great  age  of  British 
emigration  to  Canada  to  a  close.  There  was  far  less  desire  to  leave 
a  more  contented  Victorian  Britain,  despite  the  so-called  'Great 
Depression'  of  the  later  nineteenth  century. 

Changed  world  conditions  by  1900  led  to  a  new  flow  of  British 
settlers  into  Canada,  but  this  second  British  migration  was  accom- 
panied by  other  streams  from  the  United  States  and  continental 
Europe.  Hence  it  was  not  so  striking  nor  so  all-important  as  the 
first  British  migration  of  the  earlier  nineteenth  century.  During 
that  time,  of  course,  British  migrants  went  to  other  British  colo- 
nies besides  those  in  America,  and,  indeed,  went  to  the  United 












THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

States  in  greater  numbers  than  they  came  to  Canada.  Yet  in  the 
United  States  they  were  absorbed  into  a  population  that  was  al- 
ready large.  In  Canada  they  almost  swamped  the  small  existing 
English-speaking  communities,  especially  in  Upper  Canada.  They 
made  the  North  American  colonies  more  British  than  they  had 
ever  been  before.  As  a  result,  the  significance  of  this  first  British 
migration  can  hardly  be  stressed  too  much  in  Canadian  history. 

Between  1815  and  1850  more  people  came  to  the  British  North 
American  colonies  from  Britain  than  there  had  been  in  all  these 
provinces  at  the  earlier  date.  Their  total  population  rose  from 
under  half  a  million  in  1815  to  nearly  three  million  in  1850.  In 
all,  nearly  800,000  immigrants  came;  discharged  soldiers  and  half- 
pay  officers  from  Wellington's  armies,  Irish  weavers  and  paupers, 
Scottish  artisans  and  dispossessed  crofters,  English  country  labour- 
ers and  factory  workers.  There  were  numbers  of  middle-  and 
upper-class  emigrants,  who  often  failed  in  their  hopes  of  becoming 
gentlemen-farmers  in  the  wilderness,  but  the  urge,  indeed,  the 
need,  to  emigrate  was  strongest  in  the  lower  ranks  of  society.  On 
the  whole  those  who  came  proved  themselves  hardy  and  self- 
reliant.  Many,  however,  had  scraped  together  their  last  funds  for 
passage-money  for  themselves  and  family.  They  arrived  almost 
penniless,  to  tax  the  limited  resources  of  the  colonies.  The  Irish 
famine-immigrants  of  the  late  1 840*3  were  perhaps  the  worst  case 
of  this  sort.  Starvation  and  disease  carried  them  off  in  hundreds 
in  the  'emigrant  sheds'  on  their  arrival.  Yet,  if  a  man  were  strong, 
the  constant  need  for  labour  in  a  new  land  gave  even  the  penniless 
arrival  a  chance  to  earn  a  living,  to  learn  the  ways  of  the  country, 
and  to  save  enough  to  buy  a  farm  of  his  own. 

Although  some  of  the  emigrants  received  aid  from  the  British 
government  or  private  charitable  societies,  most  came  at  their  own 
expense.  The  more  well-to-do  travelled  in  the  cabins  of  regular 
packet  ships,  but  the  poor  made  the  long  voyage  under  sail  in  the 
steerage  of  crowded  emigrant  vessels.  Often  they  were  crammed 
into  the  dark  holds  of  timber  ships,  which  thus  picked  up  a  cargo 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

of  living  ballast  for  the  trip  back  to  British  North  America  after 
having  discharged  their  lumber  in  Britain.  Even  the  cabin  passen- 
gers had  to  carry  their  own  supplies,  and,  despite  regulations 
against  overcrowding,  the  problem  of  cooking  and  eating,  sleep- 
ing and  living,  in  an  airless  confined  space  below  decks,  with  sea- 
sick or  possibly  diseased  neighbours  close  by,  sometimes  made 
the  voyage  in  the  steerage  a  nightmare.  At  least  the  coming  of  the 
steamship  shortened  the  length  of  the  nightmare,  but  undoubtedly 
the  Atlantic  passage  helped  the  British  settlement  of  Canada  in  a 
ruthless  way  by  getting  rid  of  the  more  unfit  on  the  journey. 

Of  the  new  arrivals,  about  40,000  went  to  Nova  Scotia  between 
the  years  1815  and  1838.  After  this  time  the  last  frontiers  in  the 
province  had  been  fairly  well  occupied,  and  immigration  declined. 
More  than  half  of  the  immigrants  were  Scots,  who  came  to  form 
the  third  group  in  Nova  Scotia,  following  the  Loyalists  and  the 
pre-Loyalist  New  Englanders.  Scots  went  also  to  Prince  Edward 
Island  in  considerable  numbers.  New  Brunswick  secured  well 
over  60,000  settlers,  two-thirds  of  them  Irish,  and  filled  up  the 
fertile  St  John  valley  and  the  Gulf  of  St  Lawrence  shore.  The 
crest  of  the  movement  to  New  Brunswick  came  later,  particularly 
in  the  i84o's,  when  the  'famine  Irish'  arrived.  The  result  was  to 
lessen  the  staid  Loyalist  character  of  this  province,  as  was  the 
case  in  Nova  Scotia,  though  in  both  provinces  Loyalist  groups 
continued  to  dominate  society.  Newfoundland  did  not  share  parti- 
cularly in  the  great  British  Atlantic  migration,  though  a  trickle  of 
settlers  continued  to  go  there.  The  island  was  being  chiefly  popu- 
lated from  Ireland  and  the  west  of  England. 

As  for  the  Canadas,  few  of  the  British  immigrants  settled  in 
Lower  Canada  except  in  the  Eastern  Townships  or  in  Montreal 
and  Quebec,  but  many  passed  through  on  their  way  to  Upper 
Canada.  The  broad  confines  of  Upper  Canada  received  the  largest 
flow  of  settlers.  This  province  grew  very  rapidly.  Rising  only 
after  1820,  the  flood  of  British  immigrants  to  Upper  Canada 
reached  12,000  in  the  year  of  1828, 30,000  in  1830,  and  66,000  two 


THE   PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

years  later.  Outbreaks  of  cholera,  the  dreaded  scourge  of  the  im- 
migrant, and  troubled  times  in  Upper  Canada,  sent  more  British 
settlers  elsewhere  in  the  later  thirties,  but  a  new  peak  of  immigra- 
tion was  reached  in  the  1840*8.  English,  Welsh,  Lowland  and 
Highland  Scots  and  Catholic  and  Ulster  Irish  all  shared  in  the 
immigration.  The  English,  indeed,  had  entered  into  all  the  prov- 
inces, but  since  they  did  not  settle  in  blocks  as  the  Scots  and  Irish 
did,  or  retain  their  national  characteristics  as  long,  they  are  less 
easy  to  trace. 

In  Upper  Canada  several  large  group  settlements  were  made. 
In  the  western  part  of  the  province,  above  Lake  Erie,  the  Talbot 
Settlement  considerably  lessened  the  American  character  of  the 
region.  Colonel  Thomas  Talbot,  an  English  backwoods  despot, 
gathered  in  30,000  settlers,  founded  the  town  of  St  Thomas,  his 
namesake,  and  scattered  British  names  in  the  forest,  from  the 
British  edge  of  Lake  Erie  to  the  new  village  of  London.  On  the 
shores  of  Lake  Huron  the  Canada  Land  Company,  formed  in 
1823  with  John  Gait,  the  novelist,  as  its  first  secretary,  sought  to 
settle  a  million  acres.  The  towns  of  Guelph  and  Goderich  were 
founded  by  the  Company  and  this  western  Huron  Tract  began  to 
flourish.  Meanwhile  the  whole  shore  of  Lake  Ontario  had  been 
filled  in  and  settlement  was  pushing  inland.  Settlers  were  also 
following  in  the  wake  of  lumbermen  up  the  Ottawa  valley.  The 
population  of  Upper  Canada  reached  almost  400,000  by  1838 
and  nearly  a  million  by  1850. 

This  expansion  was  not  always  achieved  easily.  The  immi- 
grant's troubles  were  by  no  means  over  with  the  trying  Atlantic 
passage,  even  if  he  arrived  with  money  enough  to  buy  a  farm.  Con- 
fused policies  of  granting  land  in  Upper  Canada,  favouritism 
among  officials,  the  holding  back  of  crown  and  clergy  reserves 
from  sale,  combined  with  much  land  speculation,  too  often  made 
farms  either  expensive  to  buy  or  hard  to  reach.  The  hard  and 
lonely  life  of  pioneering  placed  a  heavy  burden  on  people  from  an 
old  and  well-populated  land,  even  if  they  had  not  been  town- 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

dwellers  there.  And  finally,  if  their  health  and  spirit  were  not 
broken  in  the  dark  forest  clearings,  they  might  find  that  the  lack 
of  roads  and  uncertain  markets  in  Britain  limited  the  sale  of  the 
grain  crops  they  had  raised  with  so  much  toil.  It  is  every  honour 
to  these  immigrants  that  so  many  of  them  survived  the  grave 
difficulties  and  won  through  to  success,  developing  Upper  Canada 
in  the  process,  and  helping  to  shape  its  society  as  they  did  so. 

The  influence  of  the  British  immigrants  could  be  seen  every- 
where throughout  the  society  of  British  North  America.  The 
Scottish  imprint  remained  on  Nova  Scotia,  and  is  still  clear  to-day, 
especially  on  the  Gaelic-speaking  Highlanders  of  Cape  Breton. 
The  Catholic  Irish  communities  in  New  Brunswick  and  in  the 
cities  of  Quebec  and  Montreal  formed  distinct  and  important 
elements  in  the  population.   In  Upper  Canada,  Protestant  Irish 
outnumbered  Catholic  Irish  nearly  three  to  one,  and  the  Ulster 
influence  in  this  community  was  visible  in  the  wide  growth  of  the 
Ulstermen's  Orange  Society.  Unfortunately  it  was  also  seen  in 
mounting  religious  faction  between  Catholic  and  Protestant 
settlers.  The  strongly  pro-British  and  anti-American  leanings  of 
the  Loyalists  in  Upper  Canada  were  strengthened  by  the  Orange- 
men's devotion  to  the  British  tie;  while  the  anti-Catholic  outlook 
of  Ulster  came  to  affect  the  Upper  Canadian  view  of  the  French 
Canadians.   In  general,  the  powerful  Ulster  Irish  influence  in- 
creased the  conservative  tendencies  in  Upper  Canada  that  had 
been  brought  into  being  by  the  Loyalists  and  by  the  reaction  to 
the  War  of  1812.  The  English  influence  also  tended  to  work  in 
this  direction.  English  gentlemen  who  entered  the  government 
service  or  the  dominant  Church  of  England  brought  a  decided 
belief  in  class  distinctions  with  them  and  a  dislike  of  'levelling5 
democracy.  At  the  same  time,  the  English  half-pay  officers  or 
small  gentry  who  settled  on  farms  tended  to  supply  what  educa- 
tion there  was  in  the  backwoods,  though  a  number  of  doctors, 
ministers  and  teachers  continued  to  come  to  Upper  Canada  from 
the  United  States. 


THE   PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

Not  all  British  immigrants  in  Upper  Canada,  however,  joined 
conservative  ranks.  Some  brought  new  liberal  or  Reform  ideas 
from  Britain,  or  developed  democratic  feelings  in  North  America. 
Some  were  roused  by  the  land  muddle  to  question  the  ruling 
powers  in  the  colony.  In  any  case,  the  entrance  of  immigrants  in 
large  numbers  all  over  British  North  America  nearly  everywhere 
disordered  society  and  raised  pressing  problems  of  government. 
Hence  a  new  age  of  political  change  began,  a  time  of  growing  pains 
for  the  expanding  colonies.  This  age  of  change  led  finally  to  self- 
government  for  British  North  America,  which,  thanks  to  irnrrti- 
gration,  was  becoming  strong  enough  to  manage  its  own  affairs. 
And  during  the  years  up  to  1850,  while  self-government  was  being 
achieved,  immigration  also  went  hand  in  hand  with  general 
economic  development,  another  important  aspect  of  the  new  age. 

2    Advances  in  Transportation 

The  commercial  development  of  the  British  North  American 
colonies  after  1815  generally  followed  lines  laid  down  before  the 
war  of  1812.  Lumbering  and  grain-growing  remained  the  chief 
concerns  of  the  Canadas;  lumbering  and  shipbuilding,  shipping 
and  fishing,  the  principal  employments  of  the  Maritimes.  The 
period  up  to  1850,  however,  saw  great  progress  made  in  all  these 
activities.  This  economic  advance  resulted  both  from  immigration 
and  from  improvements  in  the  means  of  transport.  At  the  same 
time  commercial  prosperity  invited  more  immigration^  while  im- 
proved transportation  brought  in  settlers  more  easily  and  carried 
their  goods  more  readily  to  market. 

One  of  the  greatest  improvements  in  transportation  came  with 
the  introduction  of  the  steamship.  In  the  long  run  this  triumph 
of  the  Industrial  Revolution  affected  the  British  North  American 
colonies,  as  it  did  all  the  overseas  possessions  of  Britain,  by  bring- 
ing them  closer  to  the  centre  of  empire.  The  bonds  of  the  sea  were 
knit  tighter.  The  products  of  rising  British  industrialism  were 
poured  more  freely  into  British  North  America.  In  return,  the 

THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

growing  factory  towns  of  Britain  demanded  more  lumber  for 
building  and  more  grain  for  bread  from  the  lands  across  the  ocean. 
This  was  indeed  a  long-run  development.  The  day  of  the  sailing 
vessel  did  not  finally  pass  away  until  the  later  nineteenth  century. 
Yet  the  coming  of  the  steamship  and  the  whole  age  of  steam 
pointed  in  the  direction  of  continually  increasing  trade  with 

Steamships  also  came  into  use  on  the  waterways  of  British 
North  America.  As  early  as  1809  the  steamer  Accommodation  had 
been  launched  at  Montreal  and  had  successfully  plied  the  St 
Lawrence  between  Montreal  and  Quebec,  though  sometimes  she 
required  the  help  of  oxen  pulling  on  shore  to  move  her  upstream 
against  the  strong  current.  By  1816  the  first  Canadian  steamship 
on  the  Great  Lakes,  the  Frontenac,  had  made  her  appearance.  By 
the  i83o's  steamboats  were  found  on  even  the  smaller  lakes  and 
rivers.  They  were  ungainly  creatures  that  belched  clouds  of  black 
wood  smoke  through  tall  thin  funnels,  and  were  often  built  like 
wooden  boxes  on  rafts.  Yet  they  supplied  easy,  and  sometimes 
very  comfortable  transportation  by  water  while  much  of  the  land 
was  still  almost  impassable  by  road. 

Especially  in  Upper  Canada,  the  roads,  to  dignify  them  by  that 
name,  were  often  impassable  for  anything  but  a  mounted  rider 
or  a  pedlar's  pack  horse.  Military  roads  like  the  Dundas  highway 
west  of  Toronto,  Yonge  Street  to  the  north,  and  the  Danforth 
road  to  Kingston  and  Montreal  in  the  east,  were  at  least  well 
surveyed  and  sometimes  roughly  bridged.  But  even  they  descen- 
ded at  times  to  deeply  rutted  paths  cut  through  the  all-embracing 
forest.  The  practice  of  building  'corduroy'  roads,  particularly  in 
swampy  sections — formed  of  logs  laid  side  by  side  across  the  track 
— improved  travel  while  the  road  was  new;  but  sinking  and  rotting 
logs  added  a  new  hazard  and  made  for  a  bumpy  journey  at  best. 

Travel  by  springless  stage  coaches  was,  therefore,  none  too 
pleasant.  It  was  best  in  winter,  when  runners  replaced  wheels, 
and  the  stage  glided  over  a  frozen  track.  The  mud  of  the  spring 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,   1815-50 

thaw,  however,  closed  down  the  roads  for  a  considerable  length  of 
time.  Of  course,  highways  were  gradually  improved  as  the  years 
went  by,  and  the  worst  of  the  conditions  described  were  found 
before  1830.  Yet,  until  the  building  of  railways,  travel  by  land 
remained  difficult  in  British  North  America.  The  first  railways 
appeared  well  before  1850,  but  they  were  few,  short,  and  relatively 
unimportant.  The  railway  era  did  not  begin  for  Canada  until  after 
1850.  It  was  only  then  that  great  interior  areas  could  be  opened 

The  period  under  discussion  was  thus  the  age  of  the  waterways. 
In  Upper  Canada,  the  Great  Lakes  and  the  river  systems  draining 
into  them,  in  Lower  Canada,  the  St  Lawrence,  still  supplied  the 
means  of  communication,  though  sailing  schooners  and  steam- 
ships had  now  replaced  canoes.  Even  in  the  Maritimes,  where 
distances  were  less  and  roads  often  better  (though  not  in 
rugged  Newfoundland)  most  traffic  went  by  water.  The  coasting 
trade  around  the  Gulf  of  St  Lawrence  and  down  the  Atlantic 
shores  handled  most  of  the  needs  of  the  Maritimes  and  Newfound- 
land. A  large  local  merchant  marine  developed  in  this  region,  as  it 
did  on  the  inland  waters  of  British  North  America. 

Because  of  the  importance  of  water  transport,  steps  were  soon 
taken  to  improve  it.  Better  types  of  vessel  were  developed  in  the 
Canadas  long  before  the  coming  of  steam.  Bateaux,  large  open 
boats,  usually  driven  by  poles  or  sweeps,  replaced  canoes;  Durham 
boats,  still  bigger  craft  that  often  carried  sails,  replaced  the 
bateaux.  On  the  open  Great  Lakes,  in  particular,  quite  large  sail- 
ing vessels  appeared.  As  a  military  example,  the  noble  line-of- 
battle  ship  St  Lawrence,  built  at  the  Royal  Naval  dockyards  at 
Kingston  on  Lake  Ontario  in  1814,  was  larger  than  the  Victory,  in 
which  Nelson  had  died  at  Trafalgar  nine  years  earlier. 

The  most  important  improvement  in  transport  affected  the 
water  routes  themselves.  After  1815  British  North  America  em- 
barked with  great  enthusiasm  on  canal-building.  Canals  had 
proved  highly  successful  in  Britain,  where  they  preceded  the  rail- 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

way-building  age.  They  seemed  to  be  having  equal  success  in 
developing  the  inland  waterways  of  the  United  States  to  their 
fullest  use.  In  1825  the  most  outstanding  American  canal  was 
completed,  the  Erie  Canal  between  Lake  Erie  and  the  Hudson 
River,  which  linked  the  Great  Lakes  by  water  with  the  Atlantic 
port  of  New  York.  The  Erie  entered  on  an  enormously  profitable 
career,  since  it  carried  much  of  the  traffic  of  the  American  West 
to  the  ocean  at  New  York  City. 

In  British  North  America  there  were  canal  projects  in  the 
Maritimes,  but  the  main  efforts  were  made  in  the  Canadas  in  an 
attempt  to  improve  the  St  Lawrence-Great  Lakes  system  as  a 
great  water  highway  between  the  West  and  the  sea.  The  steady 
flow  of  traffic  along  this  St  Lawrence  waterway  was  broken  by  the 
thundering  cascade  of  Niagara  Falls,  by  long  stretches  of  foaming 
rapids  in  the  upper  St  Lawrence,  and  by  shallows  between  Quebec 
and  Montreal  which  stopped  the  largest  ocean-going  craft  at  the 
former  port.  Canal-builders  attacked  these  breaks  in  easy  water 
communication.  In  1825  the  first  canal  was  completed  around  the 
Lachine  rapids,  one  of  several  of  the  'white  water'  barriers  in  the 
upper  St  Lawrence.  In  1829  the  first  of  eight  Welland  canals  was 
built  to  join  Lakes  Erie  and  Ontario  and  avoid  Niagara  Falls. 
Three  years  later  the  Rideau  canal  was  opened,  linking  Lake 
Ontario  at  Kingston  with  the  Ottawa  river.  It  completely  avoided 
the  rapids  of  the  upper  St  Lawrence,  since  small  vessels  could 
now  sail  to  Lake  Ontario  from  Montreal  by  going  up  the  Ottawa 
to  the  entrance  of  the  Rideau  canal. 

This,  however,  was  a  rather  roundabout  route.  The  Rideau 
canal  had  really  been  built  by  the  British  government  for  military 
purposes,  to  provide  a  pathway  between  Montreal  and  Upper 
Canada  that  would  be  distant  from  the  United  States  border.  Then 
in  wartime  the  Americans  would  not  be  able  to  cut  off  communi- 
cations along  the  upper  St  Lawrence  as  they  had  threatened  to  do 
in  the  War  of  1812.  Yet  a  better  commercial  route  was  necessary 
if  the  St  Lawrence  was  to  succeed  as  a  great  highway  between  the 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

West  and  the  sea.  High  costs  and  political  difficulties  held  this 
project  back,  but  at  last,  by  1848,  a  chain  of  canals  had  been  con- 
structed around  the  St  Lawrence  rapids,  A  larger  Welland  canal 
had  also  been  completed  and  the  shallows  below  Montreal 

Before  1850,  therefore,  ships  could  sail  by  the  St  Lawrence 
from  the  sea  to  the  Upper  Lakes  along  channels  nine  feet  in  mini- 
mum  depth.  The  canals  did  not  achieve  all  that  their  creators  had 
hoped  for  the  St  Lawrence,  and  they  were  not  deep  enough  for 
later  ocean-going  vessels.  But  they  did  provide  a  basic  line  of 
water  transport,  which  steadily  improved  and  is  still  vital  to  mod- 
ern Canada,  even  though  the  age  of  the  all-important  waterways 
has  passed  away. 

3     The  Maritime  and  St  Lawrence  Trading  Systems 

While  the  population  of  British  North  America  was  rising  and 
its  means  of  transport  steadily  improving,  far-reaching  empires  of 
trade  were  being  constructed,  based  on  the  waterways  and  the 
advancing  wealth  and  progress  of  the  provinces.  The  day  of  the 
fur  kingdom  was  over  in  the  eastern  half  of  the  continent,  but 
powerful  business  interests  were  thriving  on  exporting  the  staples 
of  lumber,  fish,  and  grain.  In  the  Maritimes  the  commercial 
interests  were  built  on  trade  by  the  Atlantic,  in  the  Canadas,  on 
the  St  Lawrence  trade.  They  came  to  wield  much  power  even  in 
the  political  life  of  the  colonies. 

Maritime  commercial  life  was  not  as  tightly  organized  nor  as 
closely  focused  on  one  city  as  that  of  the  Canadas,  which  largely 
revolved  about  Montreal.  Nevertheless  the  shipping  interests  of 
Saint  John  and  the  lumber  kings  of  the  Miramichi  were  powerful 
in  New  Brunswick,  as  the  West  Indies  merchants  of  Halifax  were 
in  Nova  Scotia;  while  the  big  commercial  houses  of  St  John's  in 
Newfoundland  came  to  dominate  the  island's  fisheries.  Most  of 
the  goods  required  by  the  fishing  outports  of  Newfoundland 
came  by  way  of  St  John's,  which  also  gathered  in  their  catch 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

for  marketing  abroad.  The  island's  fishermen,  however,  utterly 
dependent  on  their  one  'crop'  of  fish,  were  often  desperately 

This  was  the  day  of  cwood,  wind  and  water'  in  the  Maritimes, 
and  it  was  close  to  being  their  golden  age.  Until  the  iron  and  steel 
steamship  finally  drove  sail  from  the  oceans  of  the  world,  the 
Maritimes  were  well  equipped  by  position  and  resources  to  pros- 
per in  the  age  of  wooden  wind-ships.  Trade  still  went  by  water, 
not  by  rail,  along  the  coasts  of  the  continent.  Maritime  coasters 
built  of  the  plentiful  Maritime  timber,  were  busily  occupied. 
Hundreds  of  fishing  schooners  sailed  to  the  banks  and  carried 
their  catch  to  the  West  Indies.  New  Brunswick  shipyards  turned 
out  great  wooden  vessels  for  the  open  sea  as  well;  and  Nova 
Scotian  'Bluenose*  seamen,  sailing  far  over  the  globe,  developed 
one  of  the  world's  leading  merchant  fleets.  Saint  John  and  Halifax 
harbours  were  crowded  with  ships  from  the  seven  seas.  The  clip- 
per ship,  the  last  and  most  splendid  achievement  of  the  age  of  sail, 
was  so  well  fashioned  in  the  Maritimes  that  some  of  the  noblest 
American  clippers  were  designed  by  Bluenose  ship-builders  who 
had  gone  to  the  United  States. 

Nor  was  the  steamship  ignored  by  Maritime  sea-enterprise.  In 
1833,  the  Royal  William,  built  at  Quebec,  had  already  been  the 
first  vessel  to  cross  the  Atlantic  under  steam  the  entire  way,  though 
she  had  also  used  sails  to  assist  her.  Soon  afterwards  the  British 
government  was  considering  the  possibility  of  establishing  a  regu- 
lar Atlantic  steamship  service  for  mails.  Sailing  ships  might  take 
from  six  to  sixteen  weeks  in  passage,  if  the  winds  so  decreed,  but 
letters  could  travel  quickly  and  on  schedule  by  steamship.  Few 
men,  however,  in  Europe  or  America  would  then  risk  establishing 
a  steam  mail  line.  Yet  the  leading  business  figure  in  Nova  Scotia, 
a  shareholder  in  the  Royal  William,  was  prepared  to  do  so.  In 
1839  Samuel  Cunard  of  Halifax  secured  a  British  government 
mail  contract,  and  the  next  year  the  first  Cunarder  'steamship  on 
schedule'  crossed  the  Atlantic.  The  huge  Cunard  Queen  ships  of 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,   1815-50 

to-day  can  trace  their  ancestry  back  to  Maritime  provinces  of 
British  North  America. 

In  the  interior  provinces  the  one  great  trade  route  of  the  St 
Lawrence  gave  a  single  direction  to  commercial  enterprise  that 
was  lacking  in  the  Maritimes.  As  it  had  done  since  the  time  of  the 
French  fur  trade,  the  St  Lawrence  route  opened  the  way  to  the 
centure  of  the  continent  and  carried  inland  commerce  to  the  sea. 
Though  furs  had  departed  from  it,  the  St  Lawrence  system 
flourished  on  forwarding  grain  and  lumber  to  Europe  and  trans- 
porting British  manufactures  to  the  spreading  farms  of  Upper 
Canada.  Yet  the  powerful  mercantile  interests  of  Montreal,  that 
had  grown  up  with  the  fur  trade,  felt  that  handling  the  commerce 
of  the  Canadas  was  not  enough.  Once  the  St  Lawrence  traders 
had  commanded  most  of  the  traffic  of  the  American  West  besides, 
directing  the  flow  of  furs  towards  Montreal  from  south  of  the 
Great  Lakes  as  well  as  from  the  north-west.  Now  that  American 
settlements  were  reaching  into  the  prairies,  why  should  the  St 
Lawrence  not  control  their  trade,  carrying  their  farm  products  to 
European  markets  and  supplying  their  wants? 

The  St  Lawrence  route  still  had  its  natural  advantages,  on 
which  the  Montreal  merchants  counted  heavily.  It  supplied  a 
direct  water  route  behind  the  Appalachians  from  the  Atlantic  to 
the  prairies.  From  points  on  the  Great  Lakes  the  rich  American 
carrying-trade  could  be  linked  to  Montreal  and  Quebec,  which 
lay  closer  to  Europe  than  the  seaports  of  the  United  States.  There 
were  only  a  few  breaks  in  the  system  of  easy  water  communica- 
tion. Thus  it  was  that  canal-building  was  so  important  to  those 
merchants  who  shared  the  vision  of  a  St  Lawrence  commercial 
empire  ruling  the  whole  interior  of  North  America,  Canadian  and 
American  alike. 

Yet  the  grand  St  Lawrence  dream  achieved  only  partial  success. 
American  trade  routes  penetrated  the  Appalachian  barrier  and 
offered  increasing  competition.  They  tied  much  of  the  western 
carrying-trade  to  Atlantic  ports  in  the  United  States.  In  particular, 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,   1815-50 

the  Erie  canal,  that  led  to  New  York  City,  diverted  a  great  deal 
of  the  traffic  from  the  St  Lawrence  river  outlets.  Here  once  again 
was  the  old  rivalry  of  the  St  Lawrence  and  Hudson  valleys  for 
the  western  trade,  a  rivalry  that  had  begun  with  Champlain  at 
Quebec  and  the  Dutch  at  Albany.  The  'Erie  ditch',  completed  in 
the  same  year  as  the  first  St  Lawrence  canal,  the  Lachine,  tapped 
the  Great  Lakes  and  carried  traffic  in  a  southerly  direction  to  a 
port  larger  than  Montreal  and  one  that  was  ice-free  all  the  year 
round.  New  York  defeated  the  Canadian  city.  The  difference  in 
the  present  size  of  the  populations  of  these  two  chief  metropolitan 
centres  of  the  United  States  and  Canada  seems  to  suggest  the 
margin  of  victory:  New  York,  eight  million,  Montreal,  one 

Nevertheless,  the  St  Lawrence  trading  system  still  controlled 
the  lands  north  of  the  Great  Lakes  and  did  not  yield  the  commerce 
of  the  American  West  without  a  struggle.  The  final  outcome  was 
not  clear  in  the  years  before  1850.  After  the  building  of  the  Erie 
canal  the  men  of  the  St  Lawrence  countered  with  their  thorough- 
going canal  improvements,  only  completed  hi  1848.  The  construc- 
tion of  railways  in  the  United  States,  however,  overcame  these 
canals;  whereupon,  after  1850,  the  main  St  Lawrence  trading 
interests  increasingly  turned  from  waterways  to  railways,  in  an 
attempt  to  win  the  American  western  carrying  trade  through  this 
new  means  of  transport. 

Hence  the  St  Lawrence  trading  system  did  not  abandon  its 
vision  of  empire,  although  as  well  as  American  competition  it  had 
to  face  problems  within  its  'home'  provinces  of  the  Canadas.  The 
farmers  of  Upper  Canada  were  not  always  ready  to  pay  tribute  to 
a  St  Lawrence  empire  if  they  could  import  goods  at  a  lower  cost 
via  New  York  and  the  Erie  canal,  or  send  crops  to  market  more 
cheaply  that  way.  The  division  of  Upper  and  Lower  Canada  put 
the  St  Lawrence  route  under  two  governments  and  sometimes 
disputes  over  commercial  policies  and  customs  duties  hampered 
the  flow  of  trade.  The  St  Lawrence  was  one  economic  unit,  but 

THE  PIONEER   AGE,    1815-50 

politically  it  was  cut  in  two.  Finally.,  quarrels  arose  within  Lower 
Canada  between  the  English-speaking  merchant  group  and  the 
French  Canadian  majority,  which  opposed  the  great  power  of  the 
trading  interests  and  objected  to  their  expensive  plans  for  develop- 
ing the  St  Lawrence. 

All  in  all,  however,  the  St  Lawrence  system  proved  that  it  did 
have  strength  by  continuing  to  grow  in  the  face  of  these  dis- 
advantages. It  served  still  to  bind  Upper  and  Lower  Canada  to- 
gether in  mutual  dependence.  It  brought  wealth  and  develop- 
ment beyond  what  the  Maritimes  knew.  New  York  may  have 
defeated  Montreal;  but  Montreal  and  its  trading  network  remain 
to-day  one  of  the  largest  commercial  systems  in  the  world.  The 
traffic  of  the  American  West  was  not  held  in  the  long  run,  but  the 
Canadas  continued  to  pour  their  rising  wealth  into  the  St  Lawrence. 
And,  in  a  later  day,  that  vast  north-west  that  had  been  lost  to  the 
Hudson  Bay  fur  traders  would  return  to  the  St  Lawrence  com- 
mercial system,  once  railways,  settlement,  and  grain-farming  had 
opened  it  to  civilization. 

4    The  Pioneer  Age 

Up  to  1850,  this  growing,  changing  British  North  America  was 
still  in  the  pioneer  age.  Though  conditions  of  life  naturally  varied 
a  good  deal  between  the  sea  coasts  and  the  Great  Lakes,  the 
colonies  at  this  time  were,  on  the  whole,  in  the  stage  of  pioneer 
development,  the  first  carving  of  civilized  communities  out  of  the 
raw  North  American  forests.  Lower  Canada,  where  the  French- 
speaking  community  had  gone  through  its  pioneering  stage  in  the 
days  of  New  France,  seems  the  obvious  exception  to  this  state- 
ment. Since  the  end  of  the  French  regime  there  had  been  little 
change  in  the  placid  farming  existence  of  the  habitants  in  Lower 
Canada.  Even  here,  however,  English-speaking  immigrants  in  the 
Eastern  Townships  and  French  Canadian  fanners  advancing  in- 
land from  the  long-cultivated  banks  of  the  St  Lawrence  provided 
a  pioneer  fringe.  And  in  the  Maritimes,  though  the  areas  of 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

frontier  settlement  were  smaller,  there  was  still  much  pioneering 
to  be  done  up  to  1850.  As  for  Newfoundland,  in  the  lonely  out- 
posts scattered  along  the  coasts  the  inhabitants  lived  constantly 
under  stern  frontier  conditions. 

Yet  Upper  Canada  was  the  chief  centre  of  pioneer  life,  and  the 
home  of  the  largest  farming  frontier.  It  was  only  after  1850  that 
the  last  good  wild  lands  were  taken  up  in  the  fertile  Upper  Cana- 
dian peninsula  between  the  Great  Lakes.  Until  then,  though 
towns  on  the  Lakes  were  growing  into  busy  commercial  centres, 
and  the  farmlands  of  the  'Front'  were  taking  on  an  old  settled  look, 
there  was  always  a  broad  belt  of  back-country,  a  region  of  bush 
farms  and  lonely  log  cabins,  where  the  frontiersmen  were  steadily 
cutting  back  the  margin  of  the  forests. 

The  life  of  the  pioneer  farm  was  hard  and  even  brutal.  There 
was  no  time  for  learning  or  social  graces;  the  refinements  that 
settlers  might  bring  with  them  from  a  more  civilized  background 
soon  tended  to  drop  away.  It  is  unwise  to  be  too  romantic  about 
the  simple  charms  of  the  crude  shanties  and  the  ignorant,  hard- 
drinking  and  over-worked  population  who  lived  in  them.  But 
such  a  life  had  its  merits  as  well.  If  it  was  lonely,  then  neighbours 
some  miles  apart  by  forest  trail  were  the  more  valuable  to  one 
another.  They  combined  against  the  weight  of  the  wilderness  in 
*bees'  to  clear  each  other's  land,  or  to  raise  the  barns  and  hewn- 
log  cabins  that  replaced  the  first  rough  shanties.  If  there  was 
ignorance,  there  was  also  a  desire  to  bring  schooling  to  all,  and 
not  to  a  privileged  few.  If  pioneer  life  could  mean  drab  monotony 
and  a  bitter  struggle  to  succeed,  it  also  brought  freedom,  a  sense 
of  self-sufficient  strength  and  the  constant  hope  of  a  steadily  im- 
proving future.  Year  after  year,  as  the  fields  spread  out,  as  frame 
or  brick  houses  replaced  cabins,  and  the  forest  gave  way  to  a 
bountiful  countryside,  that  hope  seemed  to  be  justified. 

Apart  from  the  mass  of  the  pioneer  population,  the  pedlar,  the 
teacher,  and  the  preacher  were  the  notable  figures  of  the  frontier. 
The  first  brought  the  scant  luxuries  to  be  purchased  in  the 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

backwoods  or  the  few  necessities  not  provided  by  the  pioneer 
farm,  whether  clocks  or  shawls,  salt  or  tea,  or  knives  and  iron  pots. 
The  second  was  usually  a  frontier-dweller  too  infirm  or  incapable 
to  farm  for  himself:  perhaps  a  disabled  soldier,  or  an  old  seaman 
in  the  Maritimes.  Men  like  these,  who  turned  their  little  cabin 
into  a  school  and  often  taught  in  return  for  food  and  firewood, 
obviously  made  poor  teachers.  They  knew  little  more  than  their 
pupils  and  sought  to  fill  in  the  gaps  with  frequent  use  of  the  rod. 
Yet  from  this  small  beginning  popular  education  was  born  on  the 
Canadian  frontier,  and  from  it  rose  a  demand  for  a  general  system 
of  public  schooling. 

The  preacher  was  a  most  important  figure  on  the  frontier. 
His  regular  visits  supplied  almost  the  only  release  from  the  mono- 
tonous toiling  round  of  daily  life,  and  so  it  is  small  wonder  that 
religious  services  among  the  pioneers  were  emotional  in  the 
extreme.  The  services  held  in  the  little  log  churches  built  for 
travelling  ministers,  or  in  great  'camp  meetings'  under  the  trees 
were  religious  revivals,  popular  holidays,  and  exciting  public  festi- 
vals all  rolled  in  one.  As  a  result,  the  more  formal  and  restrained 
Church  of  England,  which  claimed  religious  control  in  the  prin- 
cipal English-speaking  colonies,  was  not  widely  popular  on  the 
frontier.  Indeed,  its  clergy  tended  to  stay  among  the  officials  and 
well-to-do  merchants  in  the  towns  and  left  the  back-country  to 
Presbyterian,  Methodist  and  Baptist  ministers.  The  Methodist 
ccircuit-riders',  in  particular,  who  were  often  from  the  United 
States,  built  up  the  power  of  Methodism  among  the  pioneers  of 
British  North  America. 

The  widespread  growth  of  churches  in  the  colonies  was  also  a 
sign  of  the  beginnings  of  culture.  Catholicism,  of  course,  was 
firmly  based  in  Lower  Canada,  but  it  came  with  the  Irish  and 
Highland  Scots  to  Upper  Canada  and  the  Maritimes  as  well.  In 
Nova  Scotia,  Presbyterianism  early  established  a  strong  foothold, 
and  rose  with  the  growing  Scottish  population  in  that  province. 
In  Upper  Canada  the  narrow  but  powerful  mind  of  Archdeacon 


THE   PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

John  Strachan  did  much  to  advance  the  Church  of  England  and 
to  found  higher  education  in  the  colony.  Higher  education,  in 
fact,  was  closely  connected  with  the  churches.  Thus  in  Nova 
Scotia  in  1802,  the  Church  of  England  foundation  of  King's  Col- 
lege (now  part  of  Dalhousie  University)  became  the  first  university 
to  be  chartered  in  British  North  America.  In  1827  the  earnest 
Strachan  secured  a  charter  for  a  King's  College  in  Upper  Canada, 
which  later  grew  into  the  University  of  Toronto.  The  University 
of  New  Brunswick  came  into  being  in  1829.  and  McGill  Univer- 
sity in  Montreal,  Lower  Canada,  arose  out  of  the  bequest  of  a  rich 
North  West  Company  trader,  James  McGill  in  1821.  Other  insti- 
tutions founded  by  religious  bodies  before  1850  included  Queen's' 
University  (Presbyterian)  and  Victoria  University  (Methodist)  in 
Upper  Canada,  and  Acadia  University  (Baptist)  in  Nova  Scotia. 

Meanwhile  education  was  advancing  on  lower  levels.  In  the 
1840'$  a  province-wide  system  of  government-controlled  primary 
education  was  set  in  operation  in  Upper  Canada,  and  the  first 
public  secondary  schools  were  similarly  established  in  the  i85o's. 
Egerton  Ryerson,  Methodist  minister,  newspaper  editor,  political 
reformer  and  superintendent  of  education,  was  the  true  founder 
of  this  school  system.  In  the  other  provinces  as  well,  the  state 
provided  for  public  primary  education.  These  'common'  schools 
were  not  generally  under  the  control  of  the  churches,  except  among 
the  French-speaking  people  of  Lower  Canada,  where  the  Catholic 
Church  continued  to  manage  the  many  tasks  of  education  as  it 
had  in  the  time  of  New  France.  In  Newfoundland,  however, 
control  of  the  school  system  was  divided  between  the  leading 
churches,  Anglican,  Methodist,  and  Catholic. 

With  increasing  education  went  also  an  increasing  interest  in 
books  and  newspapers.  As  well,  no  doubt,  the  gradually  passing 
of  the  hardest  stages  of  pioneering  produced  a  people  with  more 
time  to  read  and  to  discuss  public  questions.  British  North 
America  was  becoming  strongly  politically  minded.  Hence  little 
newspapers  sprang  up  on  every  hand  to  recount  the  doings  of  the 


THE  PIONEER  AGE,    1815-50 

colonies'  governments;  some  to  cry  out  against  abuses  and  to  urge 
reforms.  These  journals  were  symbols  of  growing  cultural  matur- 
ity, though  for  a  long  time  to  come  they  were  almost  the  only 
literature  produced  in  the  British  North  American  provinces. 
Only  in  Nova  Scotia,  where  traditions  of  culture  had  deeper  roots, 
thanks  to  the  educated  Loyalists  who  had  gone  to  that  colony, 
were  there  the  beginnings  of  a  real  native  literature  before  1850. 
Here  Judge  Thomas  Haliburton,  son  of  a  Loyalist,  produced  his 
humorous  chronicle  of  Sam  Slick  the  Clockmdker^  which  won 
much  fame  in  Britain  and  the  United  States  as  well  as  in  Canada. 
Before  1850,  therefore,  while  the  frontier  stage  was  at  its  height 
in  eastern  Canada,  not  only  were  the  colonies  being  solidly  popu- 
lated and  their  commercial  life  developed,  but  these  pioneer  com- 
munities were  also  laying  the  foundations  for  a  culture  of  their 
own.  Out  of  the  pioneer  age  there  came  a  growing  self-conscious 
spirit,  impatient  of  outside  direction,  that  turned  itself  towards 
the  goal  of  self-government  for  British  North  America. 




I    The  Problem  of  Colonial  Government 

By  the  iSso's  the  expanding  colonies  of  British  North  America 
were  outgrowing  the  forms  of  government  laid  down  for  them  at 
the  close  of  the  American  Revolution.  Their  inhabitants  were  less 
content  to  be  ruled  from  above  by  small  minority  groups,  backed 
by  the  imperial  government  in  London.  Grievances  grew,  reform 
movements  developed.  In  the  two  Canadas,  indeed,  reform  moved 
on  into  armed  rebellion.  Yet  this  too  was  a  sign  of  advancing 
maturity,  for  it  expressed  the  impatient  desire  of  some  of  the  colo- 
nists to  gain  control  of  their  own  affairs.  The  provinces  were 
growing  up. 

In  this  somewhat  painful  process,  the  colonists  were  chiefly  con- 
cerned with  the  local  provincial  authorities.  There  was  not  the 
same  clash  of  interests  of  colony  and  mother-country  that  had 
marked  the  American  Revolution.  The  old  opposition  to  imperial 
controls  over  trade  did  not  appear  again;  the  northern  provinces 
were  flourishing  within  the  British  colonial  system,  thanks  to  the 
Navigation  Acts  that  fostered  their  shipping,  and  the  imperial  pre- 
ferences on  their  grain  and  timber.  The  comparative  weakness  of 
these  colonies,  their  Loyalism  and  anti-Americanism,  and  the 
powerful  influence  of  recent  British  immigrants  in  their  midst, 
also  kept  them  turned  towards  Britain.  Hence  the  unrest  in  Bri- 
tish North  America  did  not  really  produce  a  movement  to  break 
from  the  empire.  This  was  by  no  means  a  second  American 

Nevertheless  the  imperial  government  was  linked  with  the 
mounting  discontent  in  the  provinces,  less  because  of  what  it  did, 
than  what  it  did  not  do.  To  be  sure,  the  British  government  did 
not  seek  to  rule  these  colonies  with  a  strong  hand  or  even  to  inter- 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

fere  actively  in  their  affairs.  Indeed,  it  often  neglected  them  and 
paid  only  passing  attention  to  their  grievances.  Their  problems 
were  tucked  away  in  the  Colonial  Office,  which,  though  it  con- 
tained able  and  devoted  civil  servants,  was  a  small  and  secondary 
department  of  the  British  government,  and  was  given  scant 
attention  by  the  leading  political  figures  of  the  time. 

This  lack  of  interest  in  colonial  affairs  was  largely  a  result  of 
Britain's  rise  to  the  industrial  leadership  of  the  world  during  the 
first  half  of  the  nineteenth  century.  Now  that  every  country  was 
eager  to  buy  the  products  of  British  factories,  the  small  protected 
colonial  markets  seemed  of  little  value.  When  the  whole  world 
could  serve  as  Britain's  trading  empire,  colonies  appeared  to  be 
only  unnecessary  burdens,  costly  to  manage  and  defend.  In  any 
case,  it  was  argued,  they  would  separate  from  Britain  when  they 
grew  up,  just  as  the  former  American  provinces  had  done. 

This  dark  view  of  empire  was  of  sufficient  influence  in  British 
political  circles  to  create  an  attitude  of  indifference  to  colonies. 
The  Old  Colonial  System  continued  to  operate,  almost  as  a  matter 
of  habit,  but  its  mercantilist  restrictions  were  gradually  cut  down 
after  1820.  At  the  same  time,  while  the  imperial  government  did 
not  actually  seek  to  set  the  colonies  free  ('adrift'  would  be  a  better 
word),  it  practically  assumed  that  separation  would  come  in  time. 
As  a  result,  small  attempt  was  made  to  frame  new  constructive 
colonial  policies,  and  Britain  was  largely  content  to  keep  things 
as  they  were  in  the  realms  of  colonial  government. 

Keeping  things  as  they  were,  however,  meant  supporting  a 
political  system  in  British  North  America  which  was  becoming  in- 
creasingly unpopular.  Under  that  system,  which  was  generally 
the  same  in  all  the  colonies  except  Newfoundland,  a  British 
governor  responsible  to  the  Colonial  Office  ruled  over  each  pro- 
vince with  the  assistance  of  an  appointed  council,  or  councils, 
while  an  assembly  elected  by  the  inhabitants  passed  laws  and 
levied  taxes.  In  the  Maritime  provinces  the  same  body  of  officials 
sat  either  as  the  executive  council,  which  advised  the  governor 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

and  carried  on  the  daily  work  of  government,  or  as  the  legislative 
council,  which  discussed  and  revised  laws  passed  by  the  legislative 
assembly.  In  Upper  and  Lower  Canada,  of  course,  the  Constitu- 
tional Act  of  1791  had  created  separate  executive  and  legislative 
councils,  but  here  too  their  membership  largely  overlapped. 

The  assemblies  that  represented  the  people  of  the  colonies  did 
not  fully  control  either  law-making  or  public  finances.  Some  of 
the  main  sources  of  government  revenue,  for  example,  were  not 
under  their  control.  Their  laws  could  be  revised  in  council, 
vetoed  by  the  governor,  or  set  aside  by  him  for  the  consideration 
of  the  imperial  authorities.  Government  was  not  at  all  respon- 
sible to  the  assemblies  that  voiced  the  opinions  of  the  colonists. 
The  real  power  lay  in  the  hands  of  the  council  members  and  their 
connections,  a  small  minority  in  each  province. 

True,  the  governor  was  the  head  of  the  government,  but  he  was 
a  visitor  for  a  short  term  of  years,  while  many  of  the  officials  were 
appointed  for  life  and  were  leading  colonial  citizens  who  knew 
their  country  well.  The  governor  usually  saw  his  province  through 
their  eyes — they  were  the  truly  loyal  and  British  element,  they 
assured  him — and  their  'advice9  generally  settled  the  policies  of 
government.  Hence  the  principal  officials  formed  powerful  ruling 
groups  or  oligarchies,  managing  affairs,  filling  offices,  and  over- 
riding the  wishes  of  the  popular  assemblies  as  they  saw  fit.  The 
chief  business  men  and  the  higher  clergy  of  the  Church  of 
England,  which  held  a  commanding  position  in  most  of  the  colo- 
nies, were  allied  with  the  oligarchies.  The  principal  judges  and 
the  appointed  justices  of  the  peace  in  the  countryside  were  also 
closely  connected.  The  members  of  the  oligarchies  usually  came 
from  a  fairly  small  number  of  well-to-do  and  long  established 
families,  often  of  Loyalist  origin.  Hence  the  use  of  the  term 
'family  compact'  to  describe  them. 

The  compacts  were  not  necessarily  corrupt  or  incapable  in  the 
government  that  they  gave  the  British  North  American  colonies. 
Many  of  their  members  were  able,  cultured,  public-spirited  citi- 


THE  DEMAND  FOR  REFORM,   1815-37 

zens,  who  believed  sincerely  in  the  duty  of  the  upper  classes  to 
rule;,  and  distrusted  the  wisdom  of  the  'mob',  as  they  would  call 
the  people.  Yet  the  people  of  the  advancing  colonies,  becoming 
conscious  of  their  own  power,  and  generally  living  a  life  of  equality 
in  the  wide,  free  countryside,  objected  more  and  more  to  this  rule 
by  their  'betters'.  Influenced  by  American  democracy  and  by  the 
rising  British  reform  movement,  they  began  to  seek  a  larger  share 
for  themselves  in  the  affairs  of  government. 

In  each  province  there  were  particular  grievances  felt  by  the 
colonists  which  were  expressed  in  their  elected  assemblies.  But, 
thanks  to  the  British  policy  after  the  American  Revolution  that 
had  feared  too  much  popular  power,  these  assemblies  were  weak 
in  the  face  of  the  solidly  planted  oligarchies.  Little  could  be  achieved 
in  the  way  of  reform  until  the  oligarchies  had  been  dislodged.  The 
various  grievances  all  came  back  to  the  problem  of  government. 

Consequently,  the  Reform  movements  that  arose  in  the  differ- 
ent provinces  began  to  demand  changes  in  the  political  system. 
Reformers  were  elected  to  the  assemblies  to  make  the  most  of  the 
limited  powers  of  those  bodies,  or  to  arouse  such  public  feeling 
that  the  imperial  authorities  would  be  moved  to  step  in  and  make 
changes.  A  large  part  of  the  population,  however,  sided  with  the 
oligarchies,  fearing  that  the  Reform  challenges  to  established 
authority  would  lead  to  disloyalty,  and  were  dangerously  radical 
and  'republican'  in  their  aims.  And  the  sweeping  language  of 
some  earnest  radicals  in  Reform  ranks  lent  at  least  a  little  colour  to 
this  view.  Accordingly,  since  those  supporting  the  compacts 
could  appeal  to  the  powerful  British  and  Loyalist  sentiments 
among  the  colonists,  strong  Tory  parties,  as  well  as  vigorous 
Reform  movements,  sprang  up.  The  two  sides  fought  strenuously 
in  the  provincial  assemblies  and  at  the  elections. 

Despite  the  weighty  local  questions  in  each  province,  the  core 
of  the  problem  was  still  the  power  of  oligarchy  in  government. 
But  if  that  power  were  broken,  and  government  were  tied  instead 
to  the  will  of  the  colonists,  what  then?  Each  province  would  be- 


THE  DEMAND  FOR  REFORM,   1815-37 

come  master  of  its  own  internal  affairs,  the  British  governor  would 
become  largely  a  figurehead,  no  longer  the  effective  instrument 
of  the  Colonial  Office.  The  imperial  government,  in  short,  would 
lose  much  of  its  final  control  over  the  colonies.  This  was  the  rub; 
and  here  the  problem  of  colonial  government  brought  Britain  in 
again,  and  led  the  authorities  in  London  to  oppose  the  reform  of 
the  political  system  in  British  America. 

British  statesmen  believed  that  colonies  could  not  be  colonies 
and  govern  themselves;  that  is,  manage  their  own  internal  affairs. 
And  while  Britain  granted  minor  concessions  in  all  goodwill,  they 
could  not  really  touch  the  heart  of  the  matter,  the  need  to  do  away 
with  oligarchic  government.  Moreover,  British  leaders  were  often 
still  inclined  to  distrust  popular  power  in  the  colonies  as  unruly 
and  disloyal.  It  was  unruly;  but  it  was  not  disloyal.  What  most 
Reformers  wanted  were  British  forms  of  parliamentary  govern- 
ment under  British  rule. 

In  the  last  resort,  the  imperial  government  usually  tended  to 
decide  in  favour  of  existing  authority  when  pleas  were  carried  to 
it  from  both  sides  in  the  colonies.  Hence  oligarchy  was  supported 
and  unrest  continued  to  grow  unchecked  hi  British  North  America, 
although  British  officials  sought  honestly  and  sincerely  to  rule  in 
the  provinces'  interests.  At  last  the  shock  of  actual  rebellions 
jarred  Britain  out  of  indifference  and  led  to  a  full  investigation  of 
the  troubles  in  the  colonies.  Imperial  policies  were  finally  revised, 
and  a  large  measure  of  self-government  was  granted  to  the  British 
American  provinces:  a  landmark  in  the  development  of  the 
British  empire  and  the  modern  Commonwealth.  But  for  many 
years  there  was  no  solution  to  the  basic  problem  of  colonial 
government  that  lay  beneath  the  troubles  in  British  North  America. 

2    Reform  and  Rebellion  in  Upper  Canada 

Nowhere  was  the  problem  of  oligarchic  government  more  ap- 
parent than  in  Upper  Canada.  There  the  power  of  the  group  with 
the  definite  title  of  the  'Family  Compact'  had  created  numerous 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

causes  of  discontent.  And  if  the  Compact  was  not  always  respon- 
sible for  grievances  that  were  really  beyond  its  control,  its  com- 
manding position  made  it  easy  to  blame.  One  good  example  in 
this  regard  is  the  land  question.  During  the  eighteen-twenties 
and  -thirties,  although  settlement  rapidly  advanced  in  Upper 
Canada  because  of  British  immigration,  it  still  did  not  reach  the 
rate  of  progress  attained  across  the  border  in  the  mid-western 
United  States,  nor  did  Upper  Canada  enjoy  the  same  soaring 
heights  of  prosperity  during  good  times.  Some  of  the  immigrants 
to  Canada,  in  fact,  kept  moving  on  and  went  out  of  Upper 
Canada  into  the  western  states.  Upper  Canadians  bewailed  this 
drain,  and  contrasted  the  'stagnation5  of  the  colony  with  the 
bustle  across  the  border.  In  reality,  stagnation  was  not  at  all  a 
true  description,  and  the  greater  advance  in  the  United  States 
could  be  explained  by  the  ever-constant  fact  that  the  American 
community  was  far  larger  and  much  richer,  and  that  there  were 
almost  endless  areas  of  fertile  soil  to  be  brought  under  the  plough 
in  the  American  prairies. 

Yet  it  was  easier  to  blame  land  policy  in  Upper  Canada  for  lag- 
ging development  and  emigration  to  the  United  States,  and  to 
seize  on  the  harmful  power  of  the  Compact  and  its  allies  as  the  ' 
cause  of  the  trouble.  Undoubtedly,  land  policy  under  the  Com- 
pact did  make  for  trouble.  Crown  or  public  lands  were  readily 
granted  to  wealthy  speculators  but  went  far  less  easily  to  actual 
farmers.  Friends  of  the  Compact  held  vast  areas  of  empty  land, 
keeping  the  prices  up  and  blocking  regular  and  easy  settlement. 
Roads  that  opened  the  settlers'  way  to  markets  were  slow  to  be 
built,  though  the  Compact  officials  were  ready  enough  to  spend 
public  money  on  canals  that  aided  their  merchant  allies  in  the 
towns.  And  there  was  evidence  of  extravagance  and  corruption  as 
well  as  favouritism  in  land-granting  and  canal-building.  But  the 
core  of  the  land  question  lay  in  the  clergy  reserves. 

The  clergy  reserves,  large  tracts  of  wilderness,  were  the  product 
of  the  Constitutional  Act  which  had  resulted  in  one-seventh  of  the 


THE  DEMAND  FOR  REFORM,   1815-37 

lands  in  Upper  Canada  being  set  aside  for  the  support  of  a  Pro- 
testant clergy.  The  Anglican  church,  as  the  established  church  in 
England,  had  claimed  that  it  was  also  the  official  church  in  Canada, 
and  its  ministers  the  Protestant  clergy  named  in  the  Act.  Thanks 
largely  to  its  alliance  with  the  Compact,  this  claim  had  been 
made  good,  so  that  the  Church  of  England  received  the  income 
from  the  rent  or  sale  of  the  clergy  reserves.  Other  Protestant 
churches  contested  this  position;  and  the  established  Presbyterian 
Church  of  Scotland  in  time  was  also  granted  a  lesser  share  of  the 
reserves  endowment.  But  meanwhile  the  clergy  reserves  stood  as 
two-hundred  acre  lots  of  waste  land  scattered  over  the  province, 
breaking  the  front  of  advancing  settlement,  cutting  farmers  off 
from  their  neighbours  and  blocking  the  building  of  roads.  Gradu- 
ally they  were  sold,  but  at  high  prices.  The  reserves  were  really  a 
nuisance  more  than  a  serious  burden;  yet  they  added  fuel  to  the 
grievances  over  the  difficulties  of  getting  farms,  the  privileges  of 
the  Church  of  England,  and  the  power  of  the  oligarchy  that  lay 
behind  the  whole  land  question. 

The  discontent  over  the  clergy  reserves  was,  of  course,  closely 
related  to  religious  unrest  over  the  favoured  role  of  the  Anglican 
church,  which  again  was  maintained  by  the  oligarchy.  While  there 
was  freedom  of  worship  in  all  the  colonies,  and  while  the  Anglicans 
were  a  large  group  in  Upper  Canada,  they  were  nevertheless  out- 
numbered by  other  Protestant  sects  which  had  no  special  privi- 
leges. It  was  far  easier,  for  example,  to  maintain  a  state  church  in 
England  where  the  large  majority  were  Anglicans  than  in  Upper 
Canada,  where  the  Methodists  were  the  largest  sect.  Archdeacon 
Strachan,  however,  the  leader  of  the  Church  of  England  in  the 
colony  and  a  member  of  the  Compact,  insisted  on  Anglican  domi- 
nance, and  sought  to  extend  it  also  over  education.  As  president 
of  the  provincial  Board  of  Education  he  tried  to  keep  the  school 
system  an  Anglican  preserve  and  in  securing  the  charter  for  a  pro- 
vincial university,  King's  College,  in  1827,  intended  to  make  this 
an  Anglican  foundation. 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,   1815-37 

The  Methodists,  accordingly,  began  a  campaign  against  reli- 
gious privilege  led  by  one  of  their  ablest  ministers,  Egerton  Ryer- 
son.  In  1829  he  became  editor  of  the  Christian  Guardian,  the 
voice  of  the  new  movement.  The  Methodists  founded  a  college  of 
their  own,  which  grew  into  Victoria  University,  while  Ryerson 
carried  his  campaign  to  the  Colonial  Office.  He  was  able  to  see  the 
the  right  to  celebrate  marriage  extended  to  the  Methodists. 
Meanwhile  other  sects,  and  even  some  Low  Church  Anglicans, 
rallied  to  the  cause  of  religious  equality.  They  and  the  Methodists 
naturally  joined  with  the  rising  forces  of  Reform  in  politics.  By 
1826  the  Reformers  were  urging  the  secularization  of  the  clergy 
reserves,  that  is,  that  they  be  sold  and  the  proceeds  be  devoted  to 
public  education. 

Other  factors  were  also  increasing  dissatisfaction  with  Compact 
rule.  The  frontier  farmers,  often  in  debt,  mistrusted  the  banks  and 
business  men  of  the  towns.  They  blamed  some  of  their  woes  on  too 
close  a  connection  between  the  merchants  and  bankers  and  the 
Compact.  When  the  Bank  of  Upper  Canada  was  founded  in  1821 
with  the  government  holding  a  quarter  interest,  the  farmers  were 
sure  that  this  was  only  creating  a  powerful  machine  that  would 
plunge  them  deeper  into  debt.  Bad  times,  in  particular,  increased 
this  grievance.  The  western  farming  frontier,  always  a  restless 
area,  tended  to  support  the  Reform  movement  against  the  Tories 
centred  in  the  towns  and  the  older  settled  regions. 

Furthermore,  when  serious  criticism  began  after  the  War  of 
1812 — by  which  time  the  province  had  advanced  too  far  to  accept 
rule  from  above  without  question — the  oligarchy  showed  that  it 
meant  to  repress  popular  protests  sternly,  and  even  harshly.  A 
Scotsman,  Robert  Gourlay,  was  arrested  and  expelled  from  Upper 
Canada  in  1819  because  he  began  to  arouse  the  pioneer  fanners 
against  the  Compact's  land  policy.  Soon  afterwards,  Marshall 
Spring  Bidwell,  who  tried  to  carry  criticism  to  the  floor  of  the 
assembly,  was  expelled  from  that  body  on  the  grounds  that  he 
was  the  son  of  an  American,  an  alien,  and  not  eligible  to  sit  there. 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

This  assertion  affected  the  rights  of  a  large  body  of  settlers  of 
American  origin,  and  as  a  result  a  movement  began  in  the  assem- 
bly to  pass  a  law  protecting  these  settlers.  The  Compact  delayed 
its  passage  until  18285  but  meanwhile  a  Reform  party  had  begun 
to  take  shape  in  the  assembly  in  1824. 

In  that  same  year,  however,  William  Lyon  Mackenzie,  a  fiery 
little  Scottish  immigrant,  had  founded  a  newspaper  to  support 
the  Reform  cause.  Thanks  to  his  ability  as  a  journalist,  he  quickly 
became  the  chief  public  figure  on  that  side.  Mackenzie  was  none 
too  sure  of  what  he  wanted  to  put  in  the  Compact's  place,  but  he 
showed  skill  and  courage  in  exposing  its  abuses.  His  telling  but 
violent  attacks,  indeed,  so  angered  the  friends  of  the  oligarchy  that 
in  1826  a  mob  of  Tories,  led  by  sons  of  prominent  Compact  mem- 
bers, threw  the  presses  of  his  Colonial  Advocate  into  the  waters  of 
Toronto  Bay.  But  this  only  made  Mackenzie  a  Reform  hero.  In 
1828  he  was  elected  to  the  assembly  which  for  the  first  time  had  a 
Reform  majority. 

The  next  few  years  saw  a  ding-dong  battle  between  the  fairly 
well  balanced  forces  of  Reform  and  Toryism.  Yet  the  power  of  the 
councils  and  the  weakness  of  the  assembly  kept  the  Reformers 
from  achieving  very  much;  while  their  failure  to  do  so,  and  the 
widespread  Loyalist  and  Orange  feelings  in  the  province,  streng- 
thened the  Tories  anew  after  every  defeat.  Violence  flared  at  elec- 
tions. Mackenzie  was  elected  and  expelled  four  times  in  a  row 
from  the  assembly,  and  he  grew  increasingly  extreme  in  his  views. 
His  growing  radicalism  was  surely  understandable,  but  it  divided 
him  from  the  more  moderate  sort  of  Reformers  led  by  Bidwell 
and  a  quiet  young  man,  Robert  Baldwin.  In  1833,  moreover, 
Egerton  Ryerson  broke  with  Mackenzie  and  soon  carried  the 
strong  Methodist  wing  over  to  the  Tory  camp. 

Ryerson,  the  son  of  a  Loyalist,  had  never  been  at  all  radical  in 
politics,  and  the  Methodists  had  been  chiefly  concerned  with  reli- 
gious problems,  not  with  the  basic  political  changes  that  Macken- 
zie was  starting  to  advocate.  Mackenzie  was  now  urging  an  elec- 


THE  DEMAND   FOR   REFORM,    1815-37 

tive  legislative  council,  somewhat  after  the  American  republican 
model;  that  is,  he  wanted  membership  in  this  body,  which  was 
the  chief  check  on  the  popular  assembly,  to  be  made  subject  to 
election.  Thus  an  irresponsible  oligarchy  could  not  control  the 
council,  for  it  would  be  chosen  by  the  votes  of  the  people.  Yet 
many  other  Reformers  besides  the  Methodists  did  not  want  to  go 
as  far  as  adopting  an  American  form  of  elective  government.  Men 
like  Robert  Baldwin,  for  instance,  preferred  the  British  plan  of 
responsible  government.  That  is  to  say,  government  would  be 
made  responsible  to  the  assembly,  and  would  stand  or  fall  by  the 
votes  of  this  body.  The  calm,  shrewd  leader  of  the  moderate 
Reformers  and  his  practical  plan  would  be  heard  of  again. 

Mackenzie  and  the  radical  Reformers  moved  on  into  strong 
language  and  sweeping  remedies.  In  1835  they  issued  the  re- 
sounding 'Seventh  Report  on  Grievances'  in  the  assembly;  but 
they  were  still  blocked  by  the  councils  from  achieving  any  of  their 
cures.  The  following  year  a  new  and  inept  lieutenant-governor, 
Sir  Francis  Bond  Head,  was  appointed  to  Upper  Canada — by 
mistake,  it  is  said.  In  the  stormy  elections  of  that  year  Head  virtu- 
ally made  himself  a  candidate  and  loudly  proclaimed  that  the  issue, 
was  one  of  loyalty  or  republicanism.  This  appeal  to  the  British  tie, 
and  against  American  influences,  resulted  in  a  Tory  election 
triumph.  Head  had  won  his  victory;  but  he  had  practically  driven 
Mackenzie  and  the  radicals  to  rebellion.  They  saw  that  reforms, 
apparently,  could  not  be  achieved  by  peaceful  processes,  and  they 
knew  now  that  the  Colonial  Office  had  declared  itself  against  self- 
government  in  the  colonies.  And,  exasperated  by  Head,  they  were 
ready  to  take  up  the  role  of  disloyalty  that  he  had  cast  them  for. 

The  next  year  was  one  of  severe  hard  times,  and  in  the  late 
autumn  of  1837  rebellion  broke  out  in  Lower  Canada.  With  un- 
rest at  its  peak,  the  time  seemed  ripe  for  the  Upper  Canadian  radi- 
cals to  act  together  with  those  in  Lower  Canada.  Early  in 
December,  Mackenzie  and  his  followers  gathered  at  Mont- 
gomery's Tavern,  a  few  miles  north  of  Toronto,  planning  to  seize 


THE  DEMAND  FOR  REFORM.,    1815-37 

the  capital  and  overthrow  the  government,  for  Head  had  sent  his 
regular  troops  to  aid  in  Lower  Canada.  But  the  whole  plan  was 
badly  conceived  and  feebly  carried  out.  Mackenzie  was  not  a 
military  leader.  The  date  of  the  attack  was  changed;  risings  plan- 
ned in  the  west  of  the  province  had  not  begun  when  the  Toronto 
affair  was  over.  Several  hundred  ill-armed  rebels  milled  in  con- 
fusion about  Montgomery's,  while  alarm  bells  rang  in  the  city  and 
loyal  volunteers  gathered  there.  On  a  brisk  December  day  in  a 
field  near  Montgomery's,  now  a  busy  street-corner  in  the  city  of 
Toronto,  the  loyal  militia  scattered  the  rebel  farmers  in  a  twenty- 
minute  skirmish.  Mackenzie  fled  to  the  United  States.  The  Upper 
Canada  rebellion  of  1837  had  failed. 

There  were  still  border  raids  to  contend  with,  for  in  the  United 
States  Mackenzie  raised  American  sympathizers  to  fight  for  his 
cause.  These  raids  went  on  during  1838,  and  at  times,  indeed,  it 
seemed  that  Upper  Canada  was  engaged  in  another  War  of  1812, 
since  the  American  attacks  cost  far  more  fighting  than  had  the 
rebellion  at  home.  Yet  the  United  States  government  did  not 
favour  these  raiding  ventures,  and  by  1839  the  border  had  been 
restored  to  order.  The  rebel  cause  had  been  hopelessly  lost.  In 
truth,  it  had  been  hopeless  from  beginning  to  end.  The  rebellion 
had  no  definite  purpose.  Rebels  sought  variously  to  win  terms 
from  Britain,  to  gain  independence,  or  to  join  the  United  States. 
The  rebellion  had  been  weakly  supported.  Only  the  radical  wing 
of  the  Reformers  had  approved  of  it,  and  few  of  these  radicals  had 
actually  been  willing  to  fight. 

In  fact,  the  most  obvious  fact  about  the  rebellion  is  how  strong 
and  immediate  the  resistance  to  it  was.  Loyal  militia  kept  pouring 
into  Toronto  from  outlying  farming  regions  long  after  the  fighting 
was  over,  or  scoured  the  countryside  trying  to  find  any  trace  of 
rebels.  The  eastern  and  more  populous  half  of  the  province  was 
firmly  loyal,  and  the  western  proved  not  as  restive  as  expected.  In 
general,  the  Upper  Canadian  colonists,  and  most  Reformers,  made 
clear  they  had  no  desire  to  take  to  violence  or  to  break  the  British 

THE  DEMAND    FOR   REFORM,    1815-37 

tie  in  seeking  any  changes.  Yet  the  rising  did  much  to  awaken 
Britain  to  the  necessity  of  change.  In  this  way,,  then,  the  hopeless 
rebellion  of  the  muddled,  embittered,  yet  somehow  heroic 
Mackenzie  won  success  out  of  its  very  failure. 

3    Racial  Strife  and  Rebellion  in  Lower  Canada 

In  Lower  Canada  the  unrest  over  oligarchic  government  was 
greatly  complicated  by  quarrels  between  the  French- and  English- 
speaking  inhabitants  of  the  province.  In  many  ways,  in  fact,  oli- 
garchy was  only  the  problem  on  the  surface.  Behind  it  lay  the 
deeper  and  more  lasting  problem  of  the  relations  of  the  two 
peoples  of  different  language,  viewpoints,  and  interests.  In  general, 
the  governing  compact  in  Lower  Canada  was  tied  to  the  English- 
speaking  minority,  while  the  large  French  Canadian  majority, 
thanks  to  their  numbers,  easily  controlled  the  elected  assembly. 
In  this  colony,  therefore,  the  political  conflict  between  the  privi- 
leged oligarchy  and  the  popular  assembly  reflected  a  racial  conflict 
between  English  and  French. 

Nevertheless,  as  in  Upper  Canada,  the  grievances  of  the  assembly 
and  of  the  mass  of  the  people  centred  about  the  power  of  the  oli- 
garchy. Grievances  could  only  be  remedied  if  that  power  were 
weakened.  Thus  the  existing  system  of  government,  the  same  as  in 
Upper  Canada,  came  under  fire,  and  a  Reform  movement  de- 
veloped. The  causes  of  battle  might  have  been  different,  but  the 
battle-ground  was  the  same.  Here  again,  in  short,  the  problem  of 
government  was  all-important.  The  French-speaking  majority 
necessarily  came  up  against  it  in  opposing  the  policies  of  the 
English-speaking  elements  who  had  the  ruling  compact  on  their 

The  racial  split  between  the  defenders  of  oligarchy  and  the 
champions  of  the  assembly  and  reform  was  not  complete.  On  the 
side  of  the  compact,  known  as  the  Chateau  Clique  in  Lower 
Canada  (the  governor's  residence  was  the  Chateau  St  Louis),  were 
some  French  Canadians  who  held  official  posts  or  looked  for 

THE  DEMAND  FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

government  favour.  On  the  side  of  the  assembly,  a  group  of 
English-speaking  Reformers  made  common  cause  against  com- 
pact rule  with  the  main  French-Canadian  body.  Still,  the  dividing 
line  put  most  of  the  English-speaking  community,  and,  above  all, 
the  commercial  interests  of  the  St  Lawrence,  on  the  Tory  or 
government  side,  while  the  French-Canadian  habitants,  parish 
clergy,  and  professional  men  favoured  the  Reform  ranks.  The 
Tories  in  Lower  Canada,  indeed,  referred  to  themselves  as  the 
'British'  party. 

This  racial  division  ran  back  to  the  Constitutional  Act  of  1791, 
and  beyond.  When  that  Act  granted  representative  government  to 
the  two  new  provinces  of  Upper  and  Lower  Canada,  the  French 
Canadians  were  quick  to  realize  the  value  of  an  assembly,  al- 
though they  had  not  known  one  earlier  in  their  history.  In  the 
overwhelmingly  French  province  of  Lower  Canada  they  forged 
the  assembly  into  an  instrument  for  defending  or  advancing  the 
special  interests  of  French  Canada.  The  people  of  the  St  Lawrence 
had  not  forgotten  their  heritage  from  New  trance.  The  Quebec 
Act,  indeed,  had  already  safeguarded  much  of  that  heritage,  and 
by  its  special  treatment  had  made  the  French  more  conscious  of 
their  separate  position.  The  Constitutional  Act  enabled  the  French 
Canadians  to  make  that  position  still  stronger.  Using  the  assembly, 
they  set  out  to  gain  a  secure  place  for  themselves  as  a  distinct  com- 
munity with  its  own  language,  laws,  religion  and  customs.  There 
was  little  desire  to  break  with  the  British  empire.  Indeed,  it  was 
the  British  grants  of  privileges  for  their  laws,  church  and  seig- 
neurial  system  in  the  Quebec  Act,  and  the  British  grant  of  repre- 
sentative government  in  the  Act  of  1791  which  made  this  whole 
campaign  possible.  Nevertheless,  French-Canadian  nationalism 
was  being  born  in  British  North  America. 

As  a  result,  after  1791  the  English-speaking  merchants  of 
Lower  Canada  and  the  British  governors  found  themselves  brought 
together  in  the  fact  of  rising  French-Canadian  nationalism.  The 
governor  could  no  longer  work  easily  with  the  not-so-'docile' 

THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

French;  the  English  commercial  class  found  that  they  could  only 
protect  their  interests  against  a  hostile  French  majority  by  en- 
trenching themselves  in  the  oligarchy.  They  heartily  protested 
their  British  loyalty,  and  the  governors  forgot  their  earlier  suspi- 
cions of  these  once-democratic  tradesmen,  who  at  least  were  not 
foreign  in  their  views  and  aims.  The  democratic  tradesmen,  in 
fact,  rising  in  the  world,  had  grown  with  the  St  Lawrence  com- 
merce to  be  merchant  princes  and  true-blue  Tories.  Along  with 
some  of  the  Loyalists  in  Lower  Canada,  the  leading  merchants— 
the  old  foes  of  Sir  Guy  Carleton — filled  the  councils  and 
the  official  positions  in  the  province,  forming  the  Chateau 

Trouble  between  the  French  and  English  groups  in  Lower 
Canada  might  have  arisen  in  any  case  because  they  lived  largely 
different  lives,  each  with  its  own  outlook  and  aims  that  clashed 
one  with  the  other.  The  French  were  still  a  farming  people, 
dwelling  in  a  stable  society  built  on  the  firm  authority  of  the 
Catholic  Church  and  the  seigneurial  system.  The  English  moved 
in  the  restless  world  of  commerce,  always  ready  to  challenge  and 
change.  With  the  fall  of  the  St  Lawrence  fur  empire  in  1821  the 
partnership  of  the  two  peoples  in  the  fur  trade,  never  an  equal  one, 
came  to  an  end.  As  the  English  began  building  a  greater  com- 
mercial empire  of  the  St  Lawrence,  the  French  held  aloof.  Even 
before,  they  had  distrusted  the  English  money-mindedness  and 
desire  for  change,  and  had  resented  being  made  almost  the  lower 
class  of  Lower  Canada.  They  were  naturally  suspicious,  as  well,  of 
any  threat  to  French  culture  or  the  use  of  the  French  language; 
that  is,  of  any  attempt  to  anglicize  their  people.  At  the  same  time 
they  feared  for  their  cherished  peaceful  rural  society,  should  the 
unsettling  power  of  commerce  become  too  great:  a  fear  still  felt  in 
French  Canada  to-day. 

The  English,  on  the  other  hand,  deemed  the  French  backward 
and  hostile  to  progress  largely  because  their  standards  of  life  were 
different.  They  could  not  see  why  the  French  opposed  their  plans 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

for  developing  the  St  Lawrence  trading  system,  although  the 
French  argued  that  its  development  benefited  only  the  English 
merchants.  On  the  whole,  however,  the  French  disliked  being 
kept  from  the  rewards  of  business  although  they  condemned 
the  business  way  of  life.  They  set  out  in  the  assembly  to  tax  and 
control  commerce.  They  objected  to  granting  public  money  for 
canal-building,  so  necessary  to  improve  the  St  Lawrence.  One  of 
the  great  hindrances  to  the  St  Lawrence  interests,  therefore,  in 
their  competition  with  American  routes  for  the  western  trade  lay 
in  the  Lower  Canadian  assembly.  It  is  understandable  that  the 
English  business  elements  should  thus  rely  on  the  overriding 
powers  of  the  oligarchy  in  order  to  gain  their  ends. 

In  consequence,  the  political  quarrels  grew  as  the  assembly 
sought  both  to  advance  French  power  in  government  and  to 
defend  French  society  by  restraining  English  commercial  develop- 
ment. Although  the  French  Canadians  in  politics  called  them- 
selves Reformers  it  should  be  remembered  that  in  many  ways  they 
were  very  conservative.  In  commercial  matters,  at  any  rate,  the 
'British  party3  stood  for  change  and  growth.  The  French  certainly 
wanted  political  reform,  but  they  wanted  it  in  order  to  break  the 
hold  of  the  English-speaking  minority,  so  that  their  old  way  of  life 
could  be  maintained.  The  French  Reformers  really  sought  self- 
government  in  order  to  preserve  the  old  world  of  New  France  in  a 
fast-altering  British  North  America. 

The  racial  division  brought  political  clashes  in  Lower  Canada 
long  before  they  became  significant  in  Upper  Canada.  Before  the 
War  of  1812  the  assembly  had  launched  attempts  to  fix  the  costs  of 
government  on  commerce,  while  the  merchants  wanted  them  met 
through  a  tax  on  land.  Sir  James  Craig,  governor  from  1807  to 
1811,  sided  with  the  merchants  and  took  strong  steps  to  bring  the 
assembly  to  order.  The  war,  however,  brought  English  and  French 
together  against  a  common  American  enemy.  But  afterwards  the 
conflict  began  again,  and  on  a  growing  scale. 

The  same  factors  of  racial  antagonism,  concern  for  special 










THE   DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

French  rights,  and  quarrels  over  the  St  Lawrence  commerce  con- 
tinued to  bring  clashes  and  discontent  in  Lower  Canada.  The 
disputes,  however,  turned  increasingly  on  the  question  of  the 
assembly's  right  to  control  public  finances.  As  has  been  noted,  the 
colonies  of  the  Second  Empire  in  America  did  not  have  command 
of  a  large  part  of  their  government  revenues.  But  after  the  Napo- 
leonic Wars  the  imperial  authorities,  really  in  the  interest  of  simpli- 
fying and  decreasing  their  colonial  burdens,  sought  to  transfer  to 
the  provincial  assemblies  the  full  control  of  local  revenues  in 
return  for  a  fixed  civil  list,  or  a  permanent  sum  set  aside  to  pay  the 
salaries  of  government  officials.  This  bargain  was  made  fairly 
easily  in  the  Maritime  provinces  and  was  finally  concluded  after 
considerable  dispute  in  Upper  Canada  in  1831.  In  Lower  Canada 
it  was  warmly  opposed  by  the  assembly  because  a  permanent  civil 
list  would  make  the  English-speaking  officials  in  the  oligarchy 
even  more  independent  of  French  control. 

Instead,  under  the  leadership  of  its  new  Speaker,  Louis  Joseph 
Papineau,  the  Lower  Canadian  assembly  sought  to  take  over  all 
public  revenue  without  conditions.  The  purpose,  of  course,  was  to 
make  the  government  wholly  dependent  on  the  assembly  for  funds 
and  to  gain  a  complete  control  of  commercial  policy.  The  tall, 
courtly  Papineau,  elected  Speaker  in  1815,  was  an  effective  leader 
in  this  effort  He  well  understood  the  practices  of  English  parlia- 
mentary government  and  he  was  a  powerful  parliamentary  orator. 
He  was  also  affected  by  the  democratic  and  anti-clerical  ideas  of 
the  French  Revolution.  Yet  he  was  the  champion  of  an  old  seig- 
neurial  and  Catholic  French-Canadian  society.  Papineau  became 
a  seigneur  himself  He  used  his  liberal  and  even  radical  political 
ideas  to  serve  a  conservative  French  nationalism. 

In  its  budget  of  1819  the  assembly  led  by  Papineau  went  so  far 
as  to  reduce  the  salaries  of  some  unpopular  officials  in  an  attempt 
to  assert  authority  over  the  government.  Thereupon  the  legislative 
council  threw  out  the  whole  budget.  The  financial  quarrels  dragged 
on;  and  in  1827,  when  the  assembly  refused  to  vote  a  budget^  the 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,   1815-37 

governor  dissolved  it.  The  British  parliament  now  moved  to  in- 
vestigate the  political  troubles  of  Lower  Canada,  and  its  Canada 
Committee  recommended  some  limited  concessions.  When  these 
were  refused  by  the  assembly,  the  imperial  government  in  1831 
even  handed  over  most  of  the  revenues  without  conditions.  But 
by  this  time  the  long  dispute,  with  harsh  language  and  strong 
actions  on  both  sides,  together  with  other  clashes  on  racial  issues, 
had  raised  tempers  too  high  to  permit  an  easy  settlement.  Papi- 
neau  had  now  gone  beyond  demanding  financial  powers  equal  to 
the  British  House  of  Commons.  He  was  seeking  an  elected  legis- 
lative council  on  American  lines,  just  as  the  radicals  under 
Mackenzie  were  urging  in  Upper  Canada. 

In  fact,  in  1834,  the  Lower  Canadian  assembly  produced  a 
document,  rather  like  Mackenzie's  Seventh  Report,  that  rang 
with  admiration  for  American  forms  of  government  and  with 
veiled  threats  on  the  possibility  of  repeating  the  American  Revolu- 
tion in  Lower  Canada.  This  document,  the  Ninety-Two  Resolu- 
tions of  Grievances,  marked  the  turning  towards  revolt  for  Papi- 
neau  and  his  more  extreme  followers.  They  really  had  no  close 
affection  for  American  ways,  but  they,  too,  intended  somehow  to 
throw' off  the  English  yoke. 

The  result,  as  in  Upper  Canada,  was  that  the  moderate  Re- 
formers took  alarm.  Although  some  English-speaking  radicals  led 
by  Wolfred  Nelson  stayed  with  Papineau,  the  main  body  under 
John  Neilson,  who  wanted  change  only  on  British  parliamentary 
lines,  broke  with  the  French  leader.  So  did  the  French-speaking 
moderates,  who  feared  that  the  growing  Americanism  of  the 
extreme  group  would  end  in  French  Canada  being  swallowed  up 
in  the  United  States.  Finally,  the  Catholic  Church, aroused  by  the 
anti-clerical  utterances  of  Papineau  and  the  radicals,  made  clear 
its  opposition  to  any  use  offeree.  This  was  a  telling  blow  to  the 
radical  cause  in  Catholic  French  Canada. 

In  consequence,  the  rebellion  in  Lower  Canada,  when  it  came, 
was  almost  as  feeble  as  in  Upper  Canada.  From  1832  to  1836  the 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

eastern  assembly  and  council  had  continued  in  a  stalemate  over 
finances.  Then  in  1837  the  British  parliament  issued  its  Ten 
Resolutions,  declaring  that  the  colonies  could  have  neither  self- 
government  nor  an  elective  legislative  council,  and  permitting  the 
government  in  Lower  Canada  to  use  local  revenues  without  the 
assembly's  authority.  The  Reformers  were  outraged.  Papineau 
talked  of  revolution. 

He  had  even  fewer  plans  for  it  than  Mackenzie  in  Upper  Canada, 
but  his  violent  words  inflamed  his  radical  supporters.  They  organ- 
ized the  Sons  of  Liberty,  in  imitation  of  the  earlier  American 
revolutionaries.  In  reaction,  English-speaking  Lower  Canadians 
organized  semi-military  bodies.  In  the  tension  of  the  times,  and 
with  racial  suspicion  and  anger  at  their  height,  a  riot  soon  broke 
out  between  the  two  organizations  in  Montreal,  a  largely  French- 
Canadian  city  but  also  the  capital  of  the  English  commercial 
interests  and  one-third  English-speaking  in  population.  To  avoid 
more  trouble  Papineau  and  his  chief  lieutenants  left  the  city;  but 
nervous  officials,  fearing  they  had  gone  to  raise  a  rebellion  in  the 
French-Canadian  countryside,  ordered  their  arrest.  This  order 
became  a  signal  for  actual  rebellion. 

Papineau  fled  to  the  United  States,  while  a  leaderless  resistance 
broke  out  in  several  villages.  On  23  November  1837,  the  Patriotes 
of  St  Denis,  plain  farmers  like  the  rebels  of  Upper  Canada,  re- 
pelled a  detachment  of  troops  who  were  seeking  Papineau  and 
other  leaders.  More  troops,  however,  defeated  a  rebel  group  at  St 
Charles  two  days  later.  Another  gathering  of  500  Patriotes  at 
St  Eustache  was  shattered  in  December,  and  the  rebellion  was 
really  over.  It  had  occurred  only  in  the  district  around  Montreal, 
where  racial  antagonism  were  most  in  evidence.  Even  here,  lack 
of  leadership,  weak  support,  the  presence  of  regular  troops,  and, 
above  all,  the  opposition  of  the  Church,  had  made  the  rebellion 
hopeless.  No  doubt  far  more  habitants  sympathized  with  the 
rebel  cause  in  Lower  Canada  than  had  settlers  in  Upper  Canada; 
but  long  habits  of  obedience  to  authority  in  church  and  state,  and 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

doubts  about  Papineau's  American  and  anti-religious  leanings, 
made  their  weight  felt. 

Thus  the  reform  movement  in  Lower  Canada  had  also  apparently 
ended  only  in  bloodshed  and  defeat.  Yet  this  rising,  too,  affected 
Britain.  In  fact,  by  its  greater  bloodshed  it  aroused  Britain  more 
than  that  in  Upper  Canada.  In  consequence,  a  new  era  of  reform 
and  self-government  was  shortly  ushered  in.  And  this  finally  gave 
French  Canada  the  broad  political  liberty  and  the  national  security 
that  it  had  vainly  sought  in  racial  strife  and  rebellion. 

4    Peaceful  Reform  in  the  Maritimes 

During  the  period  up  to  1837  reform  movements  were  both  less 
active  and  less  violent  in  the  sea-coast  colonies  than  in  the 
Canadas.  The  high  tide  of  reform  in  the  Maritimes  came  later. 
When  it  came,  however,  it  was  far  more  orderly  than  in  the 
Canadas,  and  in  the  beginnings  of  reform  the  eastern  movements 
were  similarly  peaceful.  Therefore,  while  it  is  of  some  interest  to 
observe  reform  progress  up  to  1837  in  the  Atlantic  provinces, 
it  is  more  important  to  explain  the  absence  of  violence  and 
rebellion  there,  in  both  these  years  and  the  years  that  followed, 
even  though  the  Maritimes  faced  the  same  basic  problem  of 
oligarchic  government. 

Two  great  sources  of  angry  feelings  in  the  Canadas  were  lacking 
in  the  Maritime  provinces.  There  was  neither  the  racial  division 
of  French  and  English  nor  the  heated  appeal  to  Loyalism  as  found 
in  Upper  Canada.  The  first  point  is  clear,  but  the  second  needs 
expanding.  In  Upper  Canada  there  was  still  the  half-healed  scar 
left  by  the  War  of  1812.  It  could  easily  be  inflamed  by  raising  an 
anti-American  cry  and  damning  Reformers  as  Yankee  republi- 
cans. In  this  province,  moreover,  the  Loyalists  had  at  first  been 
a  small  group  in  a  largely  American  settlement.  They  cherished 
their  Loyalism  fiercely  and  became  a  privileged  element  glorying 
in  their  devotion  to  the  British  tie. 

Yet  while  the  Maritimes  were  no  less  loyal,  loyalty  was  not 


THE   DEMAND   FOR   REFORM,    1815-37 

really  an  issue  there.  The  War  of  1812  had  been  felt  far  less,  and 
though  there  was  little  love  for  the  United  States  there  was  not 
the  same  suspicion  of  American  influence.  Moreover,  since  the 
Loyalists  had  largely  swamped  the  original  New  England  character 
of  the  Maritimes,  a  Loyalist  background  on  the  Atlantic  coast  was 
not  the  special  mark  of  a  privileged  Tory  governing  class  but  was 
found  as  fully  among  the  Reformers.  The  red  herring,  as  it  largely 
was,  of  loyalty  could  not  be  drawn  as  readily  across  political  con- 
flicts in  the  Atlantic  provinces,  to  rouse  Tories  to  patriotic  passion 
or  to  embitter  Reformers  and  finally  drive  some  of  them  to  actual 

Other  factors  also  made  for  more  peaceful  political  changes  in 
the  Maritimes  than  in  the  Canadas.  They  were  smaller,  more 
closely  knit  and  more  mature  communities,  in  which  popular 
movements  could  be  effectively  organized  and  directed  into  parlia- 
mentary activities.  There  were  not  the  same  local  cross-currents, 
nor  was  the  yeasty  ferment  of  the  frontier  as  strong  within  them. 
In  general,  too,  Maritime  Reformers  had  more  success  in  gaining 
the  ear  of  the  Colonial  Office:  precisely  because  they  could  not  be 
so  readily  condemned  by  their  foes  as  disloyal  French  or  'Yankee- 
loving*  republicans.  Finally,  many  of  the  worst  grievances  of  the 
Canadas  were  absent  in  the  Maritime  provinces.  There  was  no 
great  struggle  over  canals  and  commerce,  over  clergy  reserves  and 
Anglican  dominance,  nor  were  the  oligarchies  as  high-handed  in 
governing.  Although  the  Anglican  Church  stood  in  a  close  rela- 
tion to  these  oligarchies,  its  privileges  weighed  less  heavily.  In 
Nova  Scotia  it  voluntarily  gave  up  the  possibility  of  clergy  reserves 
in  order  to  avoid  breeding  discontent. 

Because  of  this  general  state  of  affairs  there  was  less  unrest  in 
the  Maritimes.  Hence  the  Reform  movements  developed  later 
and  did  not  go  to  extremes.  In  Prince  Edward  Island,  the  chief 
grievance  was  the  land  question.  The  ownership  of  the  land  of  the 
province  by  landlords  living  in  England  seemed  especially  grie- 
vous when  it  kept  wild  lands  out  of  settlement.  The  provincial 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

assembly  sought  to  have  these  lands  revert  to  the  Crown.  The 
assembly's  case,  however,  was  the  weaker  because  its  purpose  was 
largely  to  gain  the  lands  for  local  speculators,  and  some  of  the 
government  officials  joined  it  in  this  effort.  The  local  oligarchy,  in 
fact,  was  not  really  the  foe  of  the  assembly  on  the  land  question: 
the  absentee  landlords  were.  The  council  and  assembly  joined  in  a 
long  memorial  to  Britain  in  1838.  Hence,  despite  constant  agita- 
tion, the  land  problem  of  Prince  Edward  Island  was  not  closely 
related  to  the  problem  of  oligarchy,  and  rather  distracted  the 
reform  movement  there  from  an  attempt  to  seek  more  self- 

Land,  apparently,  was  a  major  issue  also  in  New  Brunswick, 
but  here  the  land  in  question  was  crown  lands,  and  these  were 
under  heavy  forest.  In  short,  crown  lands  in  New  Brunswick 
chiefly  meant  timber  preserves  in  that  lumbering  and  ship- 
building province.  The  assembly  sought  to  gain  control  of  the 
crown  lands  and  in  so  doing  clashed  with  the  governing  oligarchy. 
This,  however,  was  largely  a  clash  of  rival  timber  interests :  the 
favoured  friends  of  officialdom  versus  the  powerful  timber  barons 
who  dominated  the  house  of  assembly.  In  'the  Loyalist  province' 
there  were  as  yet  few  ideas  separating  the  official,  or  Tory,  party 
from  the  opposition  in  the  assembly. 

The  New  Brunswick  political  contest  took  shape  as  in  Lower 
Canada  over  the  question  of  the  assembly's  right  to  control  public 
revenues,  but  with  very  different  results.  The  income  from  timber 
duties  on  crown  lands,  or  from  their  sale,  was  the  chief  revenue 
that  the  New  Brunswick  assembly  sought  to  control.  And  what  it 
wanted,  in  essence,  was  control  over  the  thickly-wooded  crown 
lands  themselves.  There  were  several  delegations  to  the  Colonial 
Office  from  the  assembly.  Seven  of  the  list  of  eight  grievances 
which  the  mission  of  1833  took  with  them  concerned  crown  lands 
and  limber.  Receiving  a  ready  hearing,  the  delegations  were  able 
to  win  concessions.  Finally,  in  1837,  after  some  opposition  from 
the  governor  and  officials,  that  arose  despite  the  expressed  will  of 


THE  DEMAND   FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

the  Colonial  Office,  control  of  the  crown  lands  and  public  revenues 
generally  were  transferred  to  the  assembly  in  return  for  a  perma- 
nent civil  list.  Some  members  of  the  'popular  party'  were  also 
appointed  to  the  executive  council.  With  this  New  Brunswick  was 
satisfied.  It  was,  indeed,  the  most  tranquil  province  in  British 
North  America  in  the  year  of  revolt,  1837.  Its  reform  goal  had 
been  largely  a  practical  one,  the  imperial  authorities  had  listened 
sympathetically,  and  with  the  rich  plum  of  the  crown  lands  in  its 
hands  there  seemed  no  need  for  any  further  change  in  the  existing 
political  system. 

There  was  no  one  outstanding  grievance  in  Nova  Scotia  such  as 
this  crown-lands  question;  but  on  the  other  hand  the  reform 
movement  attacked  the  general  problem  of  oligarchic  control, 
and  sought  to  make  government  responsible  to  the  assembly.  This 
province,  in  fact,  supplied  the  best  example  of  a  straightforward 
political  contest  to  establish  the  colonists'  will  in  public  affairs, 
without  major  complications  of  a  racial,  religious,  or  economic 
kind.  Led  by  the  bluff  but  brilliant  Joseph  Howe,  Reform  in  Nova 
Scotia  by  1837  had  set  out  on  a  clear-cut  and  orderly  advance 
towards  self-government:  and  this  while  the  Canadas  floundered 
in  misdirected  rebellion,  and  the  New  Brunswick  assembly  re- 
jected the  very  thought  of  a  government  responsible  to  the  repre- 
sentatives of  the  people. 

The  compact  that  ruled  Nova  Scotia  dominated  its  economic  as 
well  as  its  political  life,  containing  as  it  did  the  leading  provincial 
bankers  and  merchants  as  well  as  the  chief  judges  and  the  Anglican 
bishop,  who  virtually  controlled  education.  Yet  it  was  more  able 
and  more  liberal  in  outlook  than  the  oligarchies  in  the  Canadas. 
This  again  made  political  life  less  bitter  in  Nova  Scotia.  Men  like 
Joseph  Howe,  however,  the  editor  of  the  Novascotian  since  1828, 
opposed  the  compact's  thorough-going,  if  gentlemanly  control. 
The  son  of  a  Loyalist,  Howe  had  a  constant  vision  of  a  united 
British  empire — but  an  empire  united  through  freedom.  He 
attacked  government  imposed  from  above  on  Nova  Scotia,  and 


THE  DEMAND   FOR   REFORM,    1815-37 

distrusted  cthe  caprice  of  men  in  office'.  The  oligarchy  thereupon 
tried  to  crush  him  and  his  newspaper  by  taking  him  to  court  for 
libel  in  1835.  Howe's  skilful  and  courageous  speeches  in  his  own 
defence  instead  won  him  the  suit,  made  him  a  popular  figure,  and 
carried  him  to  the  assembly  in  1836.  He  soon  rose  there  to  be  the 
leader  of  the  gathering  forces  of  reform. 

Under  his  leadership  Reformers  turned  from  planning  an  elec- 
tive legislative  council  to  overcome  the  compact,  and  concentrated 
on  a  demand  for  the  separation  of  the  executive  and  legislative 
councils  in  Nova  Scotia.  Already  achieved  in  New  Brunswick, 
this  would  divide  and  considerably  weaken  the  oligarchy.  Further- 
more, Howe  and  the  Reformers  also  sought  to  tie  the  executive 
council  to  the  assembly.  Their  efforts  bore  fruit,  for  in  1837  the 
Colonial  Office  ordered  the  separation  of  the  two  councils  and 
also  instructed  that  four  members  of  the  executive  council  should 
henceforth  be  chosen  from  the  assembly.  The  rebellions  in  the 
Canadas  for  the  moment  checked  the  hope  of  any  further  advance 
towards  self-government,  but  the  path  for  Howe  and  Nova 
Scotia  was  clearly  marked  ahead. 

Newfoundland,  during  much  of  this  period,  was  really  at  an 
earlier  stage  of  development.  The  rule  of  the  island  by  naval 
admirals  only  ended  in  1825,  when  the  first  civil  governor  was 
appointed.  But  this  very  act  showed  that  at  last  Newfoundland 
had  been  recognized  in  Britain  as  a  true  colony,  not  a  fishing  base. 
It  would  not  be  long  before  representative  government  would  also 
be  established,  placing  the  island  under  much  the  same  political 
system  as  the  rest  of  the  British  North  American  colonies. 

Although  the  new  civil  governor,  Sir  Thomas  Cochrane,  a  hard- 
driving,  constructive  ruler,  well  pleased  the  islanders,  they  began 
to  demand  regular  British  institutions  for  their  rising  population. 
Accordingly,  in  1832  an  assembly  was  granted.  It  was  to  share 
the  work  of  law-making  with  a  small  legislative  council.  The  first 
assembly  met  in  1833,  but  almost  immediately  there  began  the 
typical  quarrels  between  council  and  assembly  over  the  control  of 


THE  DEMAND  FOR  REFORM,    1815-37 

finances.  They  led,  indeed,  to  violence  at  elections  and  appeals  to 
the  Colonial  Office  in  1837.  Yet  despite  further  years  of  political 
storms,  Newfoundland  gradually  learned  to  make  its  new  system 
work,  and  went  on  to  seek  more  self-government.  Even  in  this 
colony,  therefore,  both  the  oldest  as  a  British  possession  and  the 
youngest  in  political  development,  the  problems  of  government 
in  British  North  America  led  to  a  demand  for  responsible  control 
of  its  own  affairs. 





i    The  Meaning  of  Responsible  Government 

Reform  movements  and  rebellions  in  British  North  America 
had  made  clear  the  necessity  for  solving  the  problem  of  govern- 
ment in  the  colonies.  The  bold  and  successful  solution  that  began 
to  emerge  was  responsible  government.  Through  it  the  grievances 
of  oligarchic  rule  were  overcome,  yet  the  British  empire  remained 
intact.  The  Canadian  provinces  were  set  on  the  path  to  nation- 
hood ,  the  Second  Empire  began  its  transformation  into  the  modern 
Commonwealth:  all  thanks  to  the  application  of  the  principle  of 
responsible  government. 

What  was  this  principle  that  was  first  applied  to  the  Canadian 
colonies  of  Britain  and  to  a  large  extent  took  shape  there?  It  was 
nothing  more  than  the  extension  of  the  British  cabinet  system  to 
the  realm  of  colonial  government.  Under  that  system,  the  minis- 
try or  cabinet  which  governed  the  country  was  responsible  as  a 
body  to  parliament.  It  could  rule  only  as  long  as  it  had  the  support 
of  a  majority  in  the  House  of  Commons.  Failure  to  keep  that 
support— 'loss  of  confidence'— required  the  cabinet  to  resign  so 
that  a  new  government  could  be  formed  with  sufficient  parlia- 
mentary backing.  In  practice,  of  course,  this  meant  that  the  party 
which  won  a  majority  of  parliamentary  seats  at  elections  formed 
the  government.  The  party's  leaders  in  parliament  became  the 
cabinet  ministers,  and  the  chief  among  them  the  prime  minister. 

Applied  in  the  colonies,  this  system  would  make  the  colonial 
executive  council  a  true  cabinet,  responsible  as  a  unit  to  the  repre- 
sentatives of  the  people.  The  oligarchic  legislative  council  would 
be  by-passed;  the  governor  would  become  simply  a  constitutional 
ruler,  like  the  king  in  Britain,  taking  as  his  ministers  only  those 



with  the  confidence  of  the  elected  assembly  and  accepting  their 
policies  of  government.  The  leaders  of  the  majority  in  the  assembly 
would  actually  rule.  In  sum,  under  the  responsible  or  cabinet 
system  the  colonies  would  govern  themselves. 



The  Oligarchy  ^ 





Barrier  — 
'  Government  rwt 

responsible  to 
1  Assembly  and  People 

Barrier  broken  — 
Government  responsible 
to  Assembly  and  People 

Oligarchy  by-passed. 
Governor  becomes  largely 
a  figurehead 


All  this  could  be  achieved  without  revolution,  without  changes 
in  the  existing  structure  of  government^  without  introducing  an 
elective  system  or  destroying  the  governor's  position  as  the  link 
with  imperial  Britain.  The  colonists  could  obtain  self-government 



without  breaking  with  the  empire,  as  the  American  provinces  had 
had  to  do  in  an  age  before  the  responsible  system  had  been  clearly 
developed  in  Britain  itself.  And,  in  a  later  age,  the  colonies  of  the 
Second  Empire  in  America  could  gain  the  benefit  of  a  more 
advanced  kind  of  government.  For,  despite  many  qualifications, 
the  fact  remains  that  the  cabinet  system  has  some  advantage  over 
the  American  congressional  type  of  government.  By  linking  the 
legislature  (the  law-making  body)  and  the  executive  (the  governing 
authority)  together,  the  cabinet  system  permits  greater  flexibility 
and  prevents  friction  between  the  two.  At  the  least,  the  cabinet 
ministers  under  the  responsible  system  sit  as  members  of  the 
legislature,  where  they  are  constantly  available  to  supply  informa- 
tion and  enter  debate,  while  under  the  congressional  system  the 
ministers  (department  heads)  are  appointed  separately  by  the 
president  and  seem  on  occasion  to  be  regarded  as  suspect  out- 
siders by  a  congress  with  whom  they  are  not  as  closely  connected. 
The  realization  that  responsible  government  would  meet  the 
needs  of  the  colonies,  yet  preserve  the  empire,  came  only  slowly 
in  Britain.  For  one  thing,  the  workings  of  cabinet  government 
were  not  fully  recognized  in  that  country  in  the  late  eighteen- 
twenties,  at  which  time  an  Upper  Canadian  colonist,  Robert 
Baldwin,  saw  that  the  extension  of  the  responsible  system  might 
be  the  answer  to  the  political  problems  of  British  North  America. 
Baldwin  was  no  radical.  He  wanted  only  the  full  British  constitu- 
tional practice^  and  his  very  aim  was  to  preserve  the  imperial  bond. 
In  1828  his  father,  Dr  William  Baldwin,  had  sent  a  letter  to  the 
existing  British  government  on  this  subject,  but  it  received  little 
attention  at  that  early  stage.  Robert  Baldwin  tried  again,  in  1836. 
He  visited  the  Colonial  Office  personally  to  propose  responsible 
government  as  a  means  of  removing  the  threat  of  radicalism  in 
Upper  Canada.  He  still  had  no  success.  Meanwhile  Joseph  Howe 
in  Nova  Scotia,  another  deep  admirer  of  the  British  constitution, 
was  also  developing  the  principle  of  cabinet  rule  as  the  goal  of  his 
reform  activities. 



Yet  in  Britain  as  well  there  was,  by  this  time,  a  rising  group  of 
men  interested  in  the  colonial  problem.  A  prominent  statesman 
and  an  ally  of  this  group  of  Colonial  Reformers,  John  Lambton., 
Earl  of  Durham,  would  himself  propose  responsible  government 
as  a  broad,  constructive  imperial  policy.  Responsible  government 
might  not  have  been  won  in  British  America  without  the  work  of 
Baldwin  and  Howe,  and  it  is  probable  that  they  had  a  clearer 
understanding  of  its  operation  there  than  Durham  or  his  friends. 
Yet  it  is  equally  true  that  without  the  mighty  voice  of  Durham 
and  the  efforts  of  the  Colonial  Reformers  at  the  heart  of  the 
empire,  Baldwin's  ideals  might  never  have  been  embodied  in  a 
grand  new  imperial  design:  one  that  produced  an  empire  held 
together  by  freedom  not  force,  bound  by  'ties  though  light  as  air, 
as  strong  as  links  of  iron'. 

The  Colonial  Reformers  somewhat  tempered  the  prevailing 
British  indifference  to  empire.  Though  few  in  numbers  they  were 
able  and  vigorous  in  proclaiming  the  value  of  colonies  and  the 
need  for  a  systematic  reform  of  the  whole  colonial  system.  They 
were  chiefly  active  in  politics  in  the  eighteen-thirties  and  -forties, 
in  the  same  period  when  Reform  parties  in  British  America  were 
striving  towards  self-government.  Here  was  a  happy  coincidence, 

Colonies  were  particularly  valuable,  the  Colonial  Reformers 
declared,  as  spacious  homes  for  the  overcrowded  British  people. 
They  encouraged  organized  emigration  movements.  They  sought 
to  develop  new  Britain  overseas,  under  free  British  institutions,  to 
grow  as  partners  of  the  parent  land.  Granting  the  colonies  self- 
government,  they  said,  would  not  mean  their  inevitable  separation 
from  the  empire  but  would  bind  them  with  ties  of  gratitude  and 
interest.  On  the  other  hand,  witholding  the  full  rights  of  British 
subjects  abroad  would  drive  them  to  separate.  Because  of  these 
views  the  Colonial  Reformers  attacked  the  irresponsible  regime  in 
the  colonies.  They  blamed  the  overriding  authority  of  the  Colonial 
Office  for  much  of  the  discontent  in  America.  If  the  empire  were 



to  be  held;  it  could  only  be  held  through  generosity  and  a  free 
spirit,  not  through  a  tight  and  interfering  control.  It  was  in  this 
very  spirit  that  Lord  Durham  came  to  British  North  America, 
after  the  rebellions  of  1837,  to  inquire  into  the  troubles  there. 

2     The  Durham  Report 

When  the  news  of  the  outbreaks  in  the  Canadas  reached  Britain 
the  weak  government  of  the  day,  that  of  Lord  Melbourne,  had 
been  dangerously  shaken.  The  Colonial  Secretary,  Glenelg,  had 
undoubtedly  done  his  best  to  settle  the  colonial  discontents;  but 
given  the  existing  system  and  view  of  empire,  it  had  not  been 
enough.  Accordingly,  in  order  to  stave  off  some  of  the  certain 
criticism,  Melbourne  appointed  the  Earl  of  Durham  as  governor- 
general  of  all  British  North  America,  charged  with  both  calming 
the  provinces  and  reporting  the  causes  of  their  grievances.  It  was 
a  clever  move.  'Radical  Jack'  Durham  was  one  of  the  most  ad- 
vanced liberals  of  the  time  and  the  idol  of  the  Colonial  Reformers. 
His  appointment  early  in  1838  also  took  out  of  the  kingdom  a 
sharp-tongued  critic  of  the  government  and  a  statesman,  it  was 
said,  who  might  some  day  replace  Melbourne  as  prime  minister. 

Durham  was  a  strange  mixture  of  ardent  democratic  ideals  and 
proud  aristocratic  behaviour.  A  believer  in  freedom  who  ruled 
with  absolute  authority,  he  had  inevitably  a  short  and  stormy 
career  as  governor-general.  He  was  only  in  British  North  America 
for  five  months,  and  resigned  his  post  in  hot  anger  because  the 
home  government  declared  that  he  had  exceeded  his  already 
sweeping  powers.  He  stayed  long  enough,  however,  to  gather 
with  his  capable  assistants  a  mass  of  valuable  information  on  the 
Canadian  problem.  This  he  issued  in  his  famous  Report  of  1839, 
produced  on  his  return  to  England.  The  Report  set  forth  his 
recommendations  for  solving  the  problem  in  such  a  clear,  con- 
structive, and  compelling  way,  with  meaning  for  the  whole 
empire,  that  this  great  document  may  well  be  regarded  as  the 
foundation-stone  of  the  modern  Commonwealth  of  Nations. 



Durham  died  not  long  after,  a  victim  of  tuberculosis.  Yet,  though 
he  never  became  prime  minister,  who  should  say  that  his  short 
and  feverishly  active  life  had  not  reached  fulfilment? 

Durham  brought  with  him  to  Canada  the  leading  Colonial 
Reformers,  Edward  Gibbon  Wakefield  and  Charles  Buller,  both 
of  whom  left  their  stamp  on  the  structure  of  the  empire  around  the 
globe.  Without  doubt,  they  did  much  to  shape  the  Report.  Yet 
it  was  the  powerful  figure  of  Durham  behind  the  Report  which 
gave  it  the  weight  and  influence  that  otherwise  it  might  not 
have  had.  He  put  the  seal  of  a  first-ranking  imperial  statesman 
upon  it. 

On  arriving  in  Canada  Durham  found  the  real  danger  of  rebel- 
lion past.  There  was  a  brief  new  skirmish  in  Lower  Canada  later 
in  1838,  and  during  that  year  groups  of  'Patriots',  mainly 
American  volunteers,  raided  the  borders  of  Upper  Canada.  The 
Lower  Canadian  rising,  another  small,  ill-conceived  local  out- 
burst, was  quickly  suppressed,  while  Upper  Canadian  militia  re- 
pulsed the  American  attacks;  though  one  of  them,  indeed,  at  the 
'Battle  of  the  Windmill3  on  the  upper  St  Lawrence,  resulted  in 
as  many  British  casualties  as  the  battle  of  Queenston  Heights 
in  the  War  of  1812.  In  Lower  Canada  representative  government 
had  been  suspended,  and  Durham  was  authorized  to  rule  there 
through  a  special  council,  which  thus,  in  drastic  fashion,  removed 
the  voice  of  the  French  majority  in  the  assembly  from  politics. 
In  Upper  Canada  the  existing  constitution  was  not  suspended, 
but  the  Tory  party  was  in  the  saddle,  hunting  hard  for  treason, 
and  crying  'rebel'  after  even  moderate  Reformers.  Nevertheless, 
on  comparing  the  limited  extent  of  the  punishments  meted  out  in 
Upper  Canada  under  the  Tories  to  the  suppression  of  many 
another  rebellion,  and  considering  the  actual  warlike  threat  on  the 
borders,  some  of  the  legend  of  Tory  violence  at  this  time  seems 
rather  overdone. 

In  any  case  Durham  moved  quickly  to  establish  an  imperial 
policy  of  generosity.  Charges  were  dropped  against  all  those 



accused  of  rebellion  except  for  Papineau,  Mackenzie  and  a  few 
leaders  who  had  fled  the  country,  who  could  not  return  except  on 
pain  of  death.  Eight  convicted  rebels  were  exiled  to  Bermuda. 
Because  that  colony  was  not  under  Durham's  control  it  was  this 
act  which  exceeded  his  authority  and  caused  his  early  resignation. 
But  even  after  resigning  he  stayed  on  in  British  America  to  com- 
plete his  tasks.  Hence  he  saw  that  order  within  the  Canadas  was 
effectively  restored,  although  French  Canada,  while  not  rebellious, 
was  silenced  rather  than  satisfied  under  government  by  a  special 

Order  on  the  frontiers  between  Canada  and  the  United  States 
was  also  gradually  re-established,  to  some  extent  because  of 
Durham's  wise  dealings  with  Americans  on  the  border.  He  had 
none  of  the  then  widespread  British  scorn  for  United  States  democ- 
racy. He  was  almost  the  first  British  statesman  to  win  a  good 
opinion  from  the  Americans.  The  United  States  government  and 
its  military  commanders  on  the  border  also  worked  to  prevent 
American  Patriot  invasions  and  to  put  down  the  secret  'Hunters' 
Lodges'  whose  activities  came  close  to  banditry.  It  took  several 
years,  however,  to  solve  various  frontier  problems.  For  instance, 
there  was  also  a  disturbance  at  this  time  on  the  border  to  the  east, 
where  New  Brunswick  and  Maine  lumbermen  disputed  the 
boundary  line  between  them  in  a  private  struggle  sometimes  called 
the  Tork  and  Beans  War'.  The  eastern  boundary  between  the 
United  States  and  British  America  had  been  only  vaguely  drawn 
north  of  the  St  Croix  river  at  the  end  of  the  American  Revolution. 
At  length  in  1842,  the  Webster-Ashburton  Treaty  fixed  the  line, 
while  each  side  claimed  that  its  agents  had  given  away  too  much— 
which  was  probably  a  sign  of  a  moderate  compromise.  The  Treaty 
also  disposed  of  other  points  at  issue,  and  closed  the  period  of 
strain  between  British  America  and  the  United  States  that  had 
begun  in  1837.  New  border  problems  were  soon  to  arise  in  the 
far  west  of  the  continent,  to  be  dealt  with  in  the  Oregon  Treaty  of 
1846,  but  its  discussion  properly  belongs  in  another  place, 



Meanwhile,  besides  settling  the  immediate  trouble  in  the 
Canadas,  Durham  had  been  investigating  its  roots.,  hearing  com- 
plaints and  suggestions  from  all  sides,  including  a  memorandum 
from  Robert  Baldwin  on  responsible  government,  soon  to  be 
reflected  in  the  Report.  When  the  Report  was  issued  in  1839  it 
proved  full  of  keen  insight  into  the  grievances  of  the  Canadas, 
which  was  amazing,  considering  Durham's  short  stay.  It  also 
touched  on  the  Maritimes,  Durham  having  received  delegates 
from  there  while  at  Quebec. 

The  Report  condemned  in  ringing  words  the  evils  of  oligarchic 
rule,  the  abuses  in  land-granting,  and  the  narrow  privileges  of 
Anglicanism.  It  saw  clearly  what  few  British  authorities  then 
realized,  that  the  struggle  in  Lower  Canada  turned  on  the  racial 
conflict  of  French  and  English.  It  dealt  with  immigration,  public 
lands,  education,  canal-building,  local  government,  justice,  finance 
— an  astounding  range.  It  offered  a  mine  of  information  and  a 
wealth  of  suggestions  on  material  improvements  in  British  America. 
But  the  main  recommendations  of  the  Report,  those  of  greatest 
consequence,  were  three:  the  granting  of  responsible  government, 
the  division  of  imperial  and  local  affairs,  and  the  uniting  of  the 
two  provinces  of  Upper  and  Lower  Canada. 

In  advocating  responsible  government  the  Report  did  not  make 
clear  whether  Durham  meant  the  complete  cabinet  system  as 
Baldwin  understood  it;  that  is,  with  the  governor  merely  accepting 
policies  of  government  put  forward  by  a  set  of  ministers  who  were 
backed  by  a  majority  in  the  assembly.  Instead  the  Report  rather 
suggests  that  the  governor  should  still  frame  the  government  poli- 
cies, although  he  should  choose  only  men  with  majority  support 
in  the  assembly  as  ministers  to  carry  them  out.  But  in  any  case 
Durham's  main  purpose  was  to  do  away  with  irresponsible  govern- 
ment, and  to  tie  it  to  the  assembly  where  sat  the  representatives  of 
the  colonists.  The  colonies  were  indeed  to  be  granted  control  of 
their  own  affairs.  He  stressed  that  the  Canadians  could  be  trusted 
with  this  grant.  Giving  them  their  freedom  would  only  strengthen 



their  loyalty.  It  was  in  sounding  this  note  of  bold  confidence  that 
the  Report  was  at  its  best. 

On  the  question  of  how  imperial  unity  could  be  maintained  in 
the  face  of  colonial  self-government,  the  Report  noted  that  there 
were  actually  few  imperial  interests  involved  in  the  ordinary  day- 
to-day  governing  of  colonial  affairs.  Instead,  imperial  interference 
in  matters  of  local  concern  had  really  threatened  the  unity  of  the 
empire  far  more  by  making  the  British  government  a  party  in 
every  local  squabble.  Consequently  local  and  imperial  affairs 
could  well  be  separated.  The  former  could  be  left  to  colonial  self- 
government,  and  the  latter,  covering  only  a  few  subjects,  reserved 
for  British  control.  The  reserved  subjects  were:  changes  in  the 
constitutions  of  the  colonies,  regulation  of  trade  and  foreign 
relations  and  the  management  of  their  public  lands.  In  actual  fact 
these  imperial  reserved  powers  were  in  time  gradually  taken  over 
by  the  colonies,  as  they  expanded  their  field  of  self-government 
from  the  purely  local  concerns  that  Durham  had  meant  for  them. 
Control  of  public  lands  was  in  Canadian  hands  from  the  first. 
Yet  the  Report's  very  division  of  imperial  and  local  powers  made 
it  seem  possible  to  grant  colonies  responsible  government  without 
endangering  the  empire.  On  this  basis,  and  in  its  own  day,  this 
recommendation  of  Durham  was  very  important,  indeed. 

The  union  of  the  Canadas  was  not  as  fortunate  a  suggestion, 
though  Durham  meant  it  to  go  hand-in-hand  with  the  grant  of 
responsible  government  in  the  two  provinces.  Union,  in  fact,  was 
to  be  the  answer  to  racial  conflict  in  Lower  Canada.  It  was  to 
swamp  the  French,  to  make  it  safe  to  grant  self-government  with- 
out its  fall  ing  under  the  control  of  French  Canadian  nationalism. 
Durham  approved  of  the  French  demand  to  govern  themselves, 
but  did  not  approve  of  the  desire  to  maintain  a  distinctive  French- 
Canadian  community  which  lay  behind  their  demand.  While  he 
liked  the  rural  French  Canadians,  this  son  of  progressive,  indus- 
trial Britain  considered  them  uneducated  and  backward  in  their 
thinking,  a  people  doomed  to  fall  by  the  wayside  in  the  march  of 



progress.  Hence  their  out-of-date  nationalism  had  to  be  overcome. 
Responsible  government  had  to  be  granted  in  a  way  that  would 
absorb  the  French,  not  strengthen  them  in  their  separateness.  The 
old  policy  of  assimilation  was  to  be  tried  again. 

A  union  of  the  Canadas,  combining  the  English-speaking  frac- 
tion in  Lower  Canada  with  the  wholly  English-speaking  popula- 
tion of  Upper  Canada  would  leave  the  French  in  a  minority  in  the 
united  province.  In  this  way  responsible  government  would  lie  in 
English  hands  and  would  be  operated  on  English  terms,  which  the 
French  would  have  to  accept.  Durham  in  no  way  considered  this 
an  unjust  arrangement.  Believing  in  the  power  and  superiority  of 
British  civilization  and  government,  he  thought  that  the  French  in 
this  union  would  be  led  gradually  and  naturally  to  give  up  their 
separate  ways,  until,  without  their  religious  faith  at  all  being 
threatened,  they  could  be  peacefully  absorbed  into  a  wholly  British 
Canada.  This  process,  moreover,  would  not  only  end  the  racial 
conflict  in  politics  but  would  permit  necessary  economic  progress. 
In  an  English-dominated  union  the  French  could  no  longer  hold 
up  the  development  of  the  St  Lawrence  route  and  the  rise  of 
Canadian  commerce.  The  unity  of  the  great  river  valley  would  be 

It  was  a  well-meaning  and  rosy  dream,  but  it  is  understandable 
that  French  Canada  did  not  view  Durham's  Report  with  a 
friendly  eye,  despite  his  support  for  self-government.  In  fact,  on 
the  whole,  the  Report  at  first  made  far  more  enemies  than  friends. 
Besides  the  French  Canadians,  the  English-speaking  Tories  of 
Upper  and  Lower  Canada  were  angered  by  Durham's  onslaught 
on  'loyal5  Compact  rule;  and  while  those  of  Lower  Canada  liked 
the  idea  of  union,  they  objected  to  its  price,  responsible  govern- 
ment, which  would  destroy  the  power  of  the  English  Tory  minority. 
Only  the  Upper  Canadian  Reformers,  now  led  by  Baldwin,  wel- 
comed the  Report. 

In  Britain  the  prevalent  belief  that,  Durham  or  no,  imperial 
unity  could  not  be  maintained  along  with  colonial  self-government 



led  to  a  cool  reception  for  the  Report.  Yet  it  was  too  great  to  be 
put  by.  Reformers  in  the  colonies  made  Durham's  recommenda- 
tion of  responsible  government  their  goal.  His  impressive  outline 
of  a  new  imperial  system  began  to  work  on  the  mind  of  Britain. 
Within  ten  years  much  of  what  Lord  Durham  had  recommended 
had  been  accomplished  in  British  North  America,  and  a  new  age 
was  beginning  for  the  whole  British  empire. 

3    The  Union  of  the  Canada* 

One  main  point  which  the  British  Government  did  accept  from 
Durham's  Report  was  the  project  of  Canadian  union.  In  a  desire 
to  settle  the  racial  problem  by  swamping  the  French,  an  imperial 
Act  of  Union  was  passed  in  1840.  In  1841,  therefore,  the  United 
Province  of  Canada  came  into  being.  It  had  the  same  structure  of 
government  as  the  two  Canadas :  a  governor  and  executive  coun- 
cil, an  appointed  legislative  council,  and  an  elected  assembly.  But 
the  union  was  not  really  complete  because  both  old  provinces  were 
given  equal  numbers  of  representatives  in  the  new  united  assem- 
bly. This  was  done  because  at  the  time  the  population  of  the 
mainly  French-speaking  Lower  Canada  was  still  considerably 
larger  than  that  of  Upper  Canada.  Giving  Upper  Canada  as  many 
representatives  as  Lower  was  an  attempt  to  ensure  a  definite 
English-speaking  majority  in  parliament  from  the  start.  Yet  such 
a  plan  destroyed  Durham's  very  idea  of  a  complete  blending  of 
the  two  peoples.  It  kept  alive  two  distinct  sections  in  the  politics 
of  the  union:  Canada  West  and  Canada  East,  which  were  often 
popularly  called  by  their  old  names  of  Upper  and  Lower  Canada. 
Equal  representation  only  fastened  sectional  division  on  the  new 
union  and  fostered  the  French  feeling  of  separateness  in  Canada 
East.  In  consequence,  if  the  project  of  union  had  ever  had  any 
chance  of  absorbing  the  French  Canadians,  as  it  was  applied,  it 
had  none. 

Nevertheless,  the  union  of  the  Canadas  did  allow  French  and 
English-speaking  Reformers  to  form  a  common  political  front  to 



seek  the  responsible  government  that  Durham  had  dangled  before 
their  eyes.  This  alliance  grew  only  slowly.  But  in  Canada  West 
the  lively  mind  of  Francis  Hincks,  Baldwin's  chief  lieutenant,  soon 
realized  how  powerful  a  united  Reform  front  might  be.  In  Canada 
East,  Louis  Lafontaine,  the  new  moderate  leader  of  the  French 
Reformers,  came  to  see  that  if  the  French  Canadians  were  already 
in  the  union  they  might  at  least  make  the  best  of  it  and  seek 
responsible  government  there,  for  this  could  still  give  them  a  share 
in  controlling  their  destinies.  In  fact,  to  the  French  responsible 
government  came  largely  to  mean  overthrowing  English  Tory  con- 
trol in  Canada  East.  Clearly,  in  the  French  section  the  small 
English-speaking  Tory  group  could  not  reign  supreme  if  respon- 
sible government  were  once  established.  French-Canadian  nation- 
alism, newly  aroused  by  Durham's  very  scorn  for  it,  began  gradu- 
ally to  concentrate  on  gaining  responsible  government.  Yet  this 
nationalism  was  more  moderate  in  its  aim  and  methods  than  in  the 
hot  radical  days  of  Papineau.  It  could  work  very  well  with  the 
Baldwin  Reformers  of  English-speaking  Canada  West. 

Before  the  vital  Reform  alliance  developed,  however,  a  new  and 
capable  governor-general  had  come  to  Canada.  This  was  Charles 
Poulett  Thompson,  soon  named  Lord  Sydenham.  Sydenham  had 
come  out  in  1839,  even  before  the  union,  with  his  first  task  to  win 
acceptance  for  that  scheme  from  the  two  Canadas.  A  first-rate 
administrator  and  a  skilled  diplomat,  he  quickly  won  over  the 
Upper  Canadian  assembly.  Lower  Canada,  still  under  the  special 
council,  could  raise  no  objection  in  any  case.  The  plan  of  union 
went  through,  and  Sydenham  became  first  governor-general  of 
the  united  province.  Thereupon  he  undertook  two  other  tasks :  to 
develop  the  prosperity  of  the  province  and  to  make  Canada  con- 
tent with  less  than  responsible  government.  In  both  he  largely 

The  fact  was  that  the  British  Government  with  the  best  will  in 
the  world,  still  could  not  swallow  Durham's  first  great  recom- 
mendation. Colonies  simply  could  not  rule  themselves  and  be 



colonies.  The  government  sought  earnestly  to  content  Canada 
without  yielding  on  this  apparently  basic  point.  A  large  loan  for 
public  works,  practical  reforms  under  Sydenham,  the  notable  Lord 
John  Russell  in  the  Colonial  Office,  all  this  showed  Britain's  desire 
to  please.  Russell  even  sent  instructions  in  1839  which  allowed 
colonial  governors  to  change  the  members  of  their  executive 
council  as  they  saw  fit.  This  was  to  overcome  the  tendency  to  make 
ministers  life  appointees,  to  free  the  governor's  hands,  and  to 
break  up  the  unpopular  oligarchies  in  the  council.  As  a  result  the 
old  compacts  at  last  lost  most  of  their  power,  and  Sydenham  pro- 
ceeded to  change  his  ministers  fairly  readily,  even  bringing  in 
Baldwin  for  a  time,  in  an  attempt  to  keep  good  relations  between 
the  governor  and  the  elected  assembly.  And  his  strong  and  con- 
structive policies  of  developing  the  country  did  win  the  warm 
support  of  a  fair-sized  middle  group,  a  group  that  might  better  be 
called  Conservative  than  Tory,  the  older,  narrow  term. 

Now  this  was  still  not  responsible  government  as  Baldwin  saw 
it;  but  nevertheless  it  was  a  long  step  forward.  That  is  to  say,  the 
governor  was  at  least  trying  to  choose  ministers  acceptable  to  the 
assembly.  He  was  doing  so  at  his  own  will.  He  was  still  shaping 
government  policy.  In  his  very  efforts,  however  to  prevent  an 
outburst  over  responsible  government  he  was  increasingly  tying 
the  ministry  to  the  assembly.  In  his  own  opinion,  Sydenham  was 
succeeding  very  well  in  staving  off  responsible  government,  when  a 
riding  accident  in  1841  caused  his  sudden  death.  But  he  had  really 
been  acting  as  his  own  prime  minister  in  order  to  keep  control  over 
the  assembly.  Aless  skilful  politician,  with  less  money  to  spend  for 
practical  improvements,  might  find  that  Sydenham  had  simply 
built  up  an  impossible  position  for  the  governor  from  which  retreat 
was  the  only  way  out. 

4    Achieving  Responsible  Government  in  Canada 

The  next  governor  of  the  United  Province,  Sir  Charles  Bagot, 
had  to  face  the  true  difficulty:  how  to  maintain  a  steady  majority 



behind  the  governor  in  the  assembly,  to  which  government  had 
now  been  closely  tied.  The  growth  of  formal  party  lines  meant  that 
Sydenham's  tactful  ability  to  attach  assembly  leaders  to  himself 
would  no  longer  have  worked  so  successfully.  The  Tories.,  who, 
of  course,  had  opposed  responsible  government,  would  readily 
back  the  governor ;  but  they  were  a  minority  in  the  whole  union. 
Baldwin's  Reformers  were  declaring  that  responsible  government 
was  already  half  granted  and  should  be  completed,  and  the  French 
under  Lafontaine  had  formed  a  large  block  that  was  the  real 
balance  weight  in  politics.  Bagot  saw  that  to  carry  on  government 
he  must  have  French  support.  Accordingly,  he  took  French 
leaders  into  his  executive  council,  which  rather  upset  both  the 
Tories  and  the  British  government.  But  by  now  the  Reform  alii- 
ance  had  begun  to  work.  The  French  leader,  Lafontaine,  success- 
fully insisted  on  Baldwin's  also  entering  the  ministry,  Thus  a 
Reform  group  came  to  sit  in  the  government,  although  this  was 
not  yet  a  solid  one-party  cabinet  and  the  governor  still  dominated 

In  1843,  however,  Bagot  retired  because  of  illness.  His  suc- 
cessor, Sir  Charles  Metcalfe,  a  strong-minded  veteran  of  thirty- 
seven  years'  government  service  in  India,  was  determined  to  yield 
no  further.  When  Baldwin  and  Hincks  sought  the  right  of  a 
responsible  ministry  to  approve  all  official  appointments,  Metcalfe 
refused.  The  ministry  resigned.  An  election  followed  in  which  the 
governor's  supporters  accused  Baldwin  and  his  friends  of  a  greedy 
and  disloyal  desire  for  every  last  trace  of  power.  Though  the 
charge  of  disloyalty  was  unfounded,  especially  against  Baldwin,  a 
moderate  but  sincere  imperialist,  popular  feeling  was  sufficiently 
affected  by  what  seemed  the  excessive  Reform  demands  to  return 
a  bare  majority  favourable  to  Metcalfe.  Excited  Reformers  did 
not  help  their  cause,  moreover,  by  railing  against  the  governor  as 
'Charles  the  Simple',  or  'Old  Square  Toes'.  At  any  rate  a  new 
government,  that  might  loosely  be  called  Conservative,  was 
formed,  and  it  held  office  for  the  next  three  years,  feeing  increas- 



ing  difficulties,  while  popular  sentiment  began  to  swing  back  to 
the  Reformers. 

But  in  the  meantime  a  revolution  in  Britain  sharply  altered  the 
whole  confused  political  situation.  This  was  the  peaceful  but  pro- 
found revolution  that  brought  free  trade  to  Britain  and  her  empire. 
Beginning  in  1846  with  the  repeal  of  the  Corn  Laws,  it  finished  by 
removing  all  the  old  mercantilist  restrictions  on  the  freedom  of 
trade  in  the  British  empire.  By  1849,  the  Old  Colonial  System 
had  been  ended.  The  colonies  were  free  to  trade  as  they  wished. 
This  was  a  vitally  important  step;  important  because  in  time  past 
it  had  been  argued  that  colonies  could  not  be  given  self-govern- 
ment since  the  imperial  authorities  had  to  be  able  to  control  them 
in  the  interests  of  the  colonial  trading  system.  But  now  that  the 
Old  Colonial  System  was  being  abandoned,  now  that  trade  was 
freed  and  the  colonies'  economic  life  was  not  to  be  controlled, 
there  seemed  little  reason  to  control  their  political  life  either.  The 
colonies  could  have  self-government.  Moreover,  in  the  free  trade 
ministry  that  came  to  power  in  Britain,  Lord  Grey  was  the  new 
Colonial  Secretary^  and  he  shared  some  of  the  ideas  of  the  Colonial 
Reformers  on  the  virtues  of  freedom  as  an  imperial  bond. 

Grey  was  prepared  to  grant  responsible  government  to  the  colo- 
nies. The  ideals  of  Durham  and  free  trade  in  Britain  had  now 
joined  together  to  transform  imperial  policy.  No  longer  was  it 
argued  that  a  colony  could  not  govern  itself  and  remain  a  colony. 
Instead  Grey  asserted  (as  early  as  1846  in  a  dispatch  to  the  gover- 
nor of  Nova  Scotia)  that  the  government  of  the  British  American 
colonies  could  only  be  carried  on  in  accordance  with  the  wishes  of 
their  inhabitants.  This  meant  that  governors  were  henceforth  to 
take  their  ministers  from  whatever  group  held  a  majority  in  the 
colonial  assembly,  and  to  change  them  whenever  the  confidence  of 
the  assembly  changed.  This  meant,  in  sum,  the  full  responsible 
system  for  the  internal  affairs  of  the  colony,  with  a  party  cabinet 
and  a  party  prime  minister,  and  the  governor  withdrawn  from 



In  1847  Lord  Elgin,  an  imperial  statesman  who  was  a  worthy 
son-in-law  of  Durham,  was  sent  out  to  replace  Metcalfe  in  Canada 
and  to  carry  out  Grey's  new  policy,  by  which  the  Colonial  Office 
frankly  and  freely  granted  what  before  it  had  yielded  only  reluc- 
tantly and  piecemeal.  Elgin's  chance  to  apply  the  generous  new 
imperial  policy  came  with  the  elections  of  1848.  When  the 
Reformers  won  a  large  majority  in  the  assembly  that  year,  the 
governor-general  simply  called  on  their  leaders,  Baldwin  and 
Lafontaine,  to  form  a  government.  In  this  quiet  way  the  struggle 
over  responsible  government  was  settled  at  last,  as  a  one-party 
cabinet,  a  solid  Reform  ministry,  took  office  in  the  province  of 

Responsible  government  had  still  to  face  a  less  quiet  test  in 
Canada.  In  1849  a  bill  was  introduced  in  the  assembly  to  pay 
persons  in  Lower  Canada  for  losses  suffered  during  the  rebellion 
of  1837.  A  similar  measure  had  been  passed  for  Upper  Canada 
during  the  Metcalfe  regime,  but  the  Lower  Canadian  bill  was  so 
broad  in  its  terms  that  the  Tories  called  it  a  payment  for  rebellion. 
They  urged  Elgin  not  to  sign  it.  The  Rebellion  Losses  Bill  never- 
theless passed  the  assembly  and  had  the  support  of  the  Baldwin- 
Lafontaine  ministry.  Whatever  his  own  private  feelings,  under 
responsible  government  Elgin  had  no  course  but  to  sign  the 

He  did  so,  for  the  sake  of  that  system,  in  spite  of  a  violent  Tory 
outcry  against  the  government  and  the  governor-general.  Not  yet 
accepting  the  conditions  of  responsible  government,  the  worst  ele- 
ments of  Toryism  broke  into  rioting  in  Montreal,  attacking  the 
homes  of  the  Reform  ministers  and  stoning  Elgin's  carriage,  while 
he  bore  their  anger  with  calm  courage.  The  riot  grew.  A  shouting 
mob  invaded  the  parliament  building  in  Montreal,  ransacked  it, 
set  it  on  fire,  and  left  it  a  glowing  ruin.  Yet  the  violence  was  over 
almost  as  the  ashes  cooled.  It  was  dear  the  mass  of  the  people, 
French  or  English,  were  not  in  sympathy  with  it.  Despite  the 
flames  of  the  night  of  7  April,  self-government  was  secure  in  the 



province  of  Canada.  This  was  only  a  last  outburst  in  a  troubled 
but  tremendously  important  period  in  the  colonies  along  the  St 

5    Achieving  Responsible  Government  in  the  Maritimes 

While  Nova  Scotia,  like  Canada,  passed  through  a  struggle  for 
responsible  government — and,  indeed,  achieved  that  principle 
shortly  before  Canada — the  other  Maritime  provinces  were  given 
self-government  later,  once  the  system  had  been  established  by  the 
Nova  Scotian  and  Canadian  contests.  There  was  little  that  could  be 
called  a  political  struggle  after  1837  in  New  Brunswick,  which  had 
been  the  most  contented  province  in  that  year  of  crisis.  The  Re- 
formers,, led  by  Wilmot,  were  generally  satisfied  with  the  success- 
ful settlement  of  the  crown  lands  and  civil  list  question  during 
1837.  A  number  of  mixed  governments  of  Tories  and  Reformers 
followed  until  1854,  although  in  1846  the  Assembly  did  carry  a 
resolution  approving  the  principle  of  responsible,  one-party  govern- 
ment. In  any  case  Grey,  as  Colonel  Secretary,  intended  that  the 
new  principle  should  be  established  in  New  Brunswick  as  else- 
where; and  when  in  1854  the  Reformers  won  a  sweeping  majority 
at  the  elections  they  formed  the  first  one-party,  responsible 
ministry  in  the  province. 

In  Prince  Edward  Island,  the  old  struggle  over  the  land  question 
and  a  long  personal  feud  between  the  governor  and  the  speaker  of 
the  assembly  did  much  to  prevent  concentration  on  the  principle 
of  responsible  government;  until  in  1851,  in  line  with  Grey's 
established  policy,  the  first  responsible  ministry  was  formed  under 
George  Coles.  Newfoundland  was  granted  responsible  govern- 
ment similarly  in  1855.  Leaders  of  the  provincial  assembly  had 
been  appealing  to  the  British  government  to  introduce  the  system 
since  1848.  Though  the  imperial  authorities  at  first  held  back 
because  of  Newfoundland's  undeveloped  state,  the  wide  con- 
cessions of  self-government  to  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope  and  the 
Australian  colonies,  as  well  as  to  British  America,  by  1854  made 



it  impossible  to  withhold  the  grant  from  the  great  Atlantic  island. 

Nova  Scotia,  however,  saw  a  long  contest  for  responsible  govern- 
ment, but  without  the  violence  of  Canada's.  This  orderly  develop- 
ment was,  of  course,  the  result  of  different  conditions  in  the 
politics  of  Nova  Scotia  that  have  already  been  discussed.  But 
much  of  the  credit,  as  well,  must  go  to  the  political  genius  of 
Joseph  Howe.  Here  was  a  man  who  was  as  thoroughly  loyal  in 
temper  as  Robert  Baldwin,  who  saw  the  meaning  of  responsible 
government  quite  as  clearly,  and  yet  had  also  the  skill  of  Francis 
Hincks  at  party  management  and  parliamentary  tactics.  Nova 
Scotia  was  really  too  small  a  stage  for  one  of  the  ablest  statesmen 
of  the  Second  Empire. 

Howe  had  already  begun  the  campaign  for  responsible  govern- 
ment before  Lord  Durham's  Report;  in  fact,  before  the  rebellions 
in  the  Canadas.  The  Report,  however,  gave  a  powerful  British 
endorsement  to  the  Nova  Scotian  Reformers.  They  hailed  it  with 
gleeful  excitement  as  proof  that  a  leading  British  figure  also  be- 
lieved that  imperial  unity  and  colonial  self-government  could  go 
hand-in-hand.  Accordingly,  when  Lord  John  Russell  spoke  in 
the  imperial  parliament  in  1839  on  the  Report,  to  deny  that  self- 
government  could  be  combined  with  unity,  Howe  composed  four 
public  Letters  to  answer  Russell,  then  the  Colonial  Secretary.  In 
these  he  set  forth  the  doctrine  of  responsible  government  with 
great  vigour  and  clarity,  founding  it,  as  ever,  on  a  desire  to  streng- 
then the  bonds  of  empire. 

In  October,  1839,  Russell  issued  his  instructions  allowing  colo- 
nial governors  to  change  their  executive  councils  freely  to  suit 
'public  policy'.  Howe  seized  on  this  as  a  chance  to  advance  respon- 
sible government.  Although  the  instructions  were  really  meant  to 
give  the  governor  a  free  hand  in  shaping  his  ministry,  Howe,  like 
Baldwin  in  Canada,  insisted  that  changing  ministers  to  suit 
'public  policy3  required  the  governor  to  choose  his  government 
according  to  the  majority  in  the  assembly;  in  other  words,  to 
establish  the  responsible  system.  On  this  point  he  moved  a  vote 



of  want  of  confidence  in  the  existing  ministry  and  actually  brought 
about  the  governor's  recall  over  it. 

This  first  blow  at  Russell's  plan  for  'everything  but  responsible 
government5  (as  it  might  be  termed)  was  struck  in  1840.  However, 
that  year  Governor-General  Sydenham  briefly  visited  Nova  Scotia 
and  exposed  Howe  to  his  political  charm.  Howe  agreed  not  to 
force  the  pace  while  Sydenham  still  faced  so  many  problems  in 
Canada.  In  return  he  entered  a  non-party  coalition  government 
in  Nova  Scotia— a  typical  Sydenham  suggestion.  But  after 
Sydenham's  death,  the  failure  of  Nova  Scotia  to  advance  further 
towards  responsible  government  caused  the  Reform  leader  to 
break  with  the  Tories  in  the  coalition  ministry.  He  and  his  friends 
withdrew  in  1843,  to  begin  the  fight  in  the  assembly  again  for  the 
full  responsible  system. 

The  victory  of  free  trade  in  Britain  in  1846,  the  coming  of  a  new 
imperial  government  with  Lord  Grey  at  the  Colonial  Office, 
spelt  success  for  Howe  and  his  close  ally,  J.  B.  Uniacke.  In  that 
year  Grey  issued  the  new  instructions  to  the  governor  of  Nova 
Scotia  that  ordered  him  to  establish  a  responsible  ministry.  The 
elections  of  1847  were  a  Reform  triumph.  Thus  when  the  new 
assembly  met  early  in  1848  and  passed  a  vote  of  no  confidence  in 
the  existing  ministry,  a  new  Reform  government,  a  true  party 
cabinet,  was  automatically  put  in  its  place.  Nova  Scotia,  a  small 
province,  had  won  responsible  government  two  months  before 
Canada.  By  its  own  energy,  moderation,  and  unquestioned 
loyalty  Nova  Scotia  had  done  much  to  pave  the  way  to  self- 
government  within  the  empire  for  the  rest  of  British  America—* 
and,  indeed,  for  the  other  British  colonies  around  the  world. 




i    The  Canadian  Commercial  Revolution 

By  1850  a  new  question  was  beginning  to  emerge  for  the  colonies 
of  British  North  America.  By  that  date,  or  shortly  after,  the 
principal  provinces  had  achieved  a  large  amount  of  self-govern- 
ment. Now  that  they  had  won  the  right  to  manage  their  own 
affairs,  the  first  stage  on  the  road  to  nationhood,  could  they  go  on 
to  build  a  single  nation-state  in  British  America?  Would  union  be 
added  to  self-government?  Indeed,  could  British  America  sur- 
vive, divided  into  a  set  of  small  colonies,  however  free,  or  must  it 
be  welded  into  a  broad  national  unit  in  order  to  hold  the  northern 
half  of  the  continent?  The  next  twenty  years  decided  the  question 
of  union.  The  rapid  progress  made  in  this  era,  the  problems  that 
arose,  laid  the  basis  for  uniting  the  provinces.  And  the  dangers 
that  also  developed,  in  truth,  demanded  a  union,  forcing  it  sooner 
than  it  might  otherwise  have  come. 

First,  however,  there  were  years  of  economic  change,  after  1850, 
that  thrust  the  colonies  forward  and  made  union  seem  both  possi- 
ble and  valuable  for  almost  the  first  time.  True,  men  had  often 
dreamed  of  uniting  the  weak  and  scattered  provinces.  Durham 
had  briefly  toyed  with  the  idea.  But  the  Canadas  and  the  Mari- 
times  were  separated  by  miles  of  wilderness.  They  had  little  con- 
tact and  almost  no  trade  with  one  another.  The  great  West  was  an 
empty  realm  of  the  fur  trade.  It  was  only  after  1850,  then,  that 
sweeping  economic  changes  in  the  colonies  began  to  bring  union 
within  the  bounds  of  possibility. 

These  sweeping  changes  are  sometimes  described  as  the  Cana- 
dian Commercial  Revolution.  To  explain  them,  one  must  go  back 
into  the  1840*8,  and  especially  to  the  advent  of  free  trade  in 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 

Britain.  Until  the  day  of  free  trade,  while  the  old  British  colonial 
system  was  still  in  being,  the  North  American  provinces  had 
continued  to  benefit  from  the  imperial  preferences  for  their  timber 
and  grain.  In  fact,  in  1843  the  Canada  Corn  Act,  passed  by  the 
imperial  parliament,  had  given  a  larger  British  preference  to  flour 
from  Canada.  As  a  result,  the  St  Lawrence  commercial  interests 
had  thrived  as  never  before,  shipping  grain  and  flour  from  Canada 
and  even  bringing  in  wheat  from  the  American  West  to  be  milled 
into  flour  in  Canada  for  shipment  to  Britain.  The  vision  of  the 
St  Lawrence  empire,  directing  the  whole  flow  of  western  com- 
merce, seemed  almost  realized.  The  new  canals  were  being  finished, 
great  business  expansion  was  under  way.  Three  years  later  the 
blow  fell. 

The  repeal  of  the  British  Corn  Laws  in  1846  destroyed  the 
privileged  market  in  Britain  for  Canadian  flour  and  grain.  Other 
free  trade  measures  also  wiped  out  the  timber  preference.  The  St 
Lawrence  interests  found  themselves  over-expanded,  and  at  the 
same  time  world  trade  depression  closed  in.  There  were  stirrings  of 
discontent  in  British  America,  not,  as  in  the  case  of  the  former 
thirteen  colonies,  because  of  the  weight  of  the  British  mercantile 
system,  but  for  the  very  opposite  reason:  because  it  had  been 
removed.  The  dependent  British  American  colonies  found  them- 
selves flung  suddenly  out  of  the  old  sheltered  system  of  empire 
trade  into  the  cold,  hard  realm  of  world  trade,  where  they  were 
ill-equipped  to  compete.  Truly,  the  coming  of  free  trade  had 
struck  them  with  all  the  shock  of  a  revolution. 

It  seemed  to  some  of  the  leading  St  Lawrence  merchants,  sup- 
porters, of  course,  of  the  Tory  party  in  Canada  East,  that  Britain 
was  abandoning  them,  the  steadfast  British  garrison  in  a  mass  of 
rebellious  French.  At  the  same  time  responsible  government  was 
transferring  power  in  Canada  East  from  the  English-speaking 
Tory  minority  to  the  'disloyal'  French-speaking  majority.  In  their 
shock  at  defeat  and  abandonment,  especially  after  the  passage  of 
the  Rebellion  Losses  Bill,  some  Montreal  merchants  and  Tories 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,    1846-60 

signed  the  Annexation  Manifesto  of  1849.  This  document  called 
for  the  province  of  Canada  to  be  joined  to  the  United  States,  pro- 
claiming that  without  the  old  British  trading  system  Canada  was 
ruined  and  could  only  find  new  markets  and  new  prosperity  within 
the  American  republic.  Britain  herself  had  made  clear  that  she 
wanted  to  free  herself  from  the  weight  of  colonies.  She  was 
adopting  a  purely  self-interested  free  trade  policy  to  suit  Man- 
chester manufacturers,  who  saw  the  empire  as  only  a  drain  on 
their  profits.  Or  so  the  Montreal  Tories  said,  and  they  were  not 
completely  wrong. 

The  Annexation  Manifesto,  however,  was  overwhelmingly  re- 
jected by  popular  opinion  in  all  parts  of  the  province  of  Canada. 
The  Maritimes  were  not  concerned  in  the  matter.  Tories  in 
Canada  West  called  for  a  general  British  American  union,  instead 
of  annexation,  as  the  best  means  of  making  the  colonies  strong 
enough  to  overcome  the  loss  of  the  protected  imperial  trade.  Those 
Tories  in  Canada  East  who  had  signed  the  Manifesto  soon  regret- 
ted that  they  had  done  so  in  a  fit  of  gloom;  and  after  1850  annexa- 
tionist  feelings  all  but  disappeared  in  Canada.  Yet  there  had  been 
one  important  truth  in  the  Manifesto:  to  make  up  for  loss  of 
markets  in  Britain,  Canadian  trade  had  to  gain  entrance  into  the 
rich  American  market.  Some  way  had  to  be  found  through  the 
high  tariff  wall  that  kept  so  many  foreign  products  out  of  the 
United  States. 

Reciprocity  was  the  answer.  That  is  to  say,  the  British  American 
provinces  and  the  United  States  should  lower  the  trade  barriers 
between  them  by  a  mutual,  or  reciprocal,  removal  of  customs 
duties  on  a  wide  range  of  goods.  The  coming  of  free  trade  had 
ended  imperial  restrictions  on  the  flow  of  Canadian  commerce,  as 
well  as  making  a  new  trade  policy  necessary  for  British  North 
America.  Accordingly,  discussions  concerning  reciprocity  could 
be  undertaken  with  the  United  States.  The  governor-general. 
Lord  Elgin,  was  especially  interested  in  obtaining  some  agreement 
for  reciprocal  trade.  He  believed,  indeed,  that  only  reciprocity 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,    1846-60 

could  prevent  annexation,  by  filling  the  colonies'  need  tor  new 
trade  outlets. 

As  it  turned  out,  this  dark  view  was  not  wholly  justified.  Before 
reciprocity  with  the  United  States  was  finally  secured  in  1854, 
Canadian  commerce  had  managed  to  recover  from  the  worst 
strains  caused  by  the  end  of  the  old  colonial  system.  World  pros- 
perity had  begun  to  revive  in  1850.  Canada  found  that  it  still 
could  hold  some  of  the  British  grain  market,  and  a  wave  of  British 
investment  in  the  province  brought  rapid  development.  The  Cri- 
mean War  with  Russia  (1854-6)  also  increased  the  demand  in 
Britain  for  Canadian  grain  by  cutting  off  much  of  the  eastern 
European  supply.  Thus  when  reciprocity  was  achieved  it  was  not 
just  a  means  of  preventing  annexation.  Instead  it  was  a  construc- 
tive measure  that  aided  an  economic  recovery  in  Canada  which  was 
already  well  under  way.  Nevertheless  reciprocity  proved  enor- 
mously valuable  to  the  colony. 

The  successful  arranging  of  a  Reciprocity  Treaty,  however, 
largely  depended  on  another  issue  than  trade:  on  the  fisheries 
question  which  affected  the  Maritimes  more  than  the  inland  pro- 
vince of  Canada.  Ever  since  the  Convention  of  1818  had  set 
limits  to  the  right  of  Americans  to  fish  inshore  in  British  North 
American  waters  there  had  been  disputes  with  the  United  States 
over  the  extent  of  this  right.  The  fishermen  of  New  England,  as  of 
old,  were  busily  engaged  in  getting  all  that  they  could  of  the  rich 
fishing  harvest  of  the  cold  northern  waters.  There  were  sharp  new 
clashes  with  them  in  1852-3.  Thus  when  free  entrance  to  British 
American  fisheries  was  offered  to  the  United  States  as  one  term  of 
a  reciprocity  treaty,  that  country  soon  became  interested. 

At  length  the  Reciprocity  Treaty  was  signed  in  Washington  in 
1854,  its  way  eased  by  Lord  Elgin's  genial  diplomacy  and  large 
quantities  of  champagne.  It  provided  for  a  free  exchange  of  natural 
(not  manufactured)  products  between  the  United  States  and 
British  America,  free  navigation  of  the  American-controlled  Lake 
Michigan  and  the  Canadian-controlled  St  Lawrence,  and  free  ac- 
















THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 

cess  to  each  other's  fisheries.  The  points  which  mattered  most  in 
practice  were  that  the  Americans  could  now  share  freely  in  the 
northern  fisheries,  while  the  Canadians  could  send  grain  and  lim- 
ber to  the  United  States,  and  the  Maritimes  their  fish  and  timber. 

Because  of  this  Reciprocity  Treaty,  and  later  the  wartime  boom 
of  the  American  Civil  War  (1861-65%  British  North  American 
trade  with  the  United  States  rose  rapidly.  It  grew  with  the  ever- 
increasing  American  market,  as  the  republic  spread  across  the 
continent.  The  Maritimes  found  another  important  outlet  for 
their  goods  besides  the  British  West  Indies,  which  were  declining 
with  the  failing  prosperity  of  their  overworked  sugar  plantations. 
Furthermore,  although  the  colonies'  trade  in  massive  ship  timbers 
would  soon  be  threatened  by  the  passing  of  the  wooden  ship,  the 
rapidly  growing  towns  of  the  United  States  produced  a  steady 
demand  for  building  planks  and  sawn  lumber  from  the  Canadian 
and  Maritime  forests.  Saw-mills  and  lumber  towns  sprang  up  in 
Canada  West,  in  particular,  and  a  busy  north-south  lumber  trade 
began  to  replace  the  old  east-west  one  across  the  ocean. 

Thanks,  therefore,  both  to  reciprocity  and  to  the  changing  eco- 
nomic patterns  of  the  age,  the  Commercial  Revolution  began  trans- 
forming British  North  America.  Half  Canada's  trade  and  two- 
thirds  of  the  Maritimes'  was  still  with  Britain,  but  now  as  well 
there  was  an  expanding  commerce  on  the  North  American  conti- 
nent. Canada  was  shaping  a  long-lasting  system  of  trade,  whereby 
she  stood  with  one  foot  in  the  British  market  and  the  other  in  the 
American.  She  has  shifted  her  weight  more  to  one  foot  or  the 
other  with  the  passage  of  time,  but  the  position  itself  was  the  out- 
come of  the  Canadian  Commercial  Revolution.  The  British  North 
American  colonies  had  adjusted  themselves  to  the  coming  of  free 
trade,  and  had  changed  total  economic  dependence  on  Britain  for 
partial  dependence  on  both  Britain  and  the  United  States. 

But  the  Commercial  Revolution  meant  still  more.  It  led,  for 
instance,  to  another  step  towards  nationhood:  the  right  of  the 
colonies  to  direct  their  own  trade  policies  even,  if  necessary,  in 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 

opposition  to  Britain.  Thus  in  1859  the  province  of  Canada  im- 
posed a  tariff  of  its  own  which  burdened  manufactured  goods  from 
abroad,  including  British,  with  heavier  duties.  This  caused  an  out- 
cry among  some  manufacturers  in  Britain  as  it  denied  the  now- 
accepted  British  principle  of  free  trade.  However,  the  Canadians 
declared  that  when  Britain  had  dropped  the  direction  of  colonial 
commerce  she  had  also  thrown  on  the  colonies  the  responsibility 
of  making  their  own  trade  policy;  and  while  free  trade  might  be 
best  for  Britain,  it  might  not  be  for  the  colonies.  Besides,  respon- 
sible government  was  meaningless  if  a  colony  could  not  control  its 
own  economic  life.  As  a  result,  it  was  recognized  that  free  trade 
for  Britain  also  involved  freedom  for  the  colonies  to  settle  their 
own  trade  and  tariff  policies. 

Finally,  the  Commercial  Revolution  leading  as  it  did  to  new 
British  American  prosperity,  pointed  a  finger  towards  union.  The 
very  growth  of  the  colonies  laid  a  much  sounder  basis  for  uniting 
them.  They  were  more  now  than  backwoods  settlements.  They 
were  increasingly  wealthy  and  enterprising  communities,  and 
might  think  with  new  confidence  of  joining  together  to  control 
half  a  continent  And  the  very  fact  that  reciprocity  might  not  last 
for  ever  made  them  consider  the  prospects  of  developing  more 
trade  relations  among  themselves,  in  case  the  American  market 
might  some  day  be  cut  down  as  the  British  had  been.  Before  reci- 
procity had  been  won,  a  British  American  union  had  been  proposed 
as  a  means  of  building  up  a  vigorous  commercial  exchange  between 
the  provinces.  When  reciprocity  did  come  to  an  end  in  1865,  the 
colonies  turned  back  upon  themselves  in  an  attempt  to  keep, 
through  union,  some  of  the  prosperity  they  had  gained  out  of  the 
changes  of  the  Commercial  Revolution. 

2    The  Coming  of  Railways 

Mounting  British  American  prosperity  in  the  1 850'$  was  not  only 
due  to  reciprocity.  It  was  due  also  to  the  coming  of  the  railways. 
The  building  of  railways  produced  a  great  boom,  and  even  though 


THE  QUESTION  OF   UNION,    1846-60 

the  boom  burst  in  1857,  the  new  lines  further  developed  the  colo- 
nies and  provided  more  solid  groundwork  for  union.  Railways, 
in  short,  made  it  possible  to  link  the  far-spread  provinces  together, 
while  their  high  costs  finally  required  a  union,  because  only  a 
union  could  afford  to  meet  them.  The  first  railway  lines  in  British 
North  America  had  been  built  in  the  1830'$.  But  they  were  only 
a  few  miles  long,  and  although  longer  lines  were  planned  in  the 
next  ten  years,  it  was  only  in  the  fifties  that  the  railway  age  really 
began.  By  then  there  was  an  ample  supply  of  British  money  and 
railway-building  skill  looking  for  new  worlds  to  conquer.  And  the 
now  flourishing  American  provinces  were  eager  to  acquire  that 
latest  instrument  of  progress,  the  railway. 

Lines  were  built  in  the  Maritimes  Unking  Halifax  and  Truro  in 
Nova  Scotia,  and  Saint  John  and  Shediac  in  New  Brunswick.  But 
the  principal  railway  building  went  on  in  the  larger  province  of 
Canada.  Here  the  first  lines  constructed  were  attempts  to  improve 
the  existing  water  transport  system.  Though  the  St  Lawrence 
canals  had  been  built,  most  of  the  traffic  of  the  American  West  still 
flowed  through  American  channels.  Railways,  in  the  right  places, 
it  was  hoped,  would  turn  the  flow  into  the  St  Lawrence.  Thus  a 
line  was  planned  from  Montreal  to  the  ocean  at  Portland,  Maine, 
to  overcome  the  closing  of  the  St  Lawrence  by  ice  for  half  the 
year.  This  winter  route  to  the  sea,  the  St  Lawrence  and  Atlantic, 
was  opened  in  1851.  Then  the  Northern  Railway  was  built  from 
Toronto  to  Georgian  Bay  on  Lake  Huron,  to  bring  traffic  down 
from  the  Upper  Lakes  and  the  West  beyond.  The  Great  Western 
similarly  shortened  the  distance  to  the  West  by  reaching  across 
the  Ontario  peninsula  from  Hamilton,  on  Lake  Ontario,  to 
Detroit,  opposite  the  western  tip  of  the  province. 

All  these  lines  had  some  success  in  tapping  the  trade  of  the 
American  West  for  Canada,  but  the  greatest  project  of  them  all 
was  the  Grand  Trunk  Railway.  The  original  plan  for  a  through 
route  called  for  a  line  from  the  western  end  of  Canada  to  the 
ocean  at  Halifax,  to  be  built  by  all  the  provinces.  The  eastern  link, 


THE  QUESTION   OF  UNION,    1846-60 

however.,  the  Quebec  to  Halifax,,  or  Intercolonial  railway,  could 
not  be  agreed  upon,  and  the  province  of  Canada  went  on  alone 
with  its  own  Grand  Trunk.  It  was  to  cross  the  whole  province 
from  the  western  end  to  the  lower  reaches  of  the  St  Lawrence. 
This  Grand  Trunk,  therefore,  represented  a  new  stage  in  the 
dream  of  the  commercial  empire  of  the  St  Lawrence.  If  canals 
and  river  could  not  gain  mastery  of  the  western  trade  for  the 
Canadian  route,  especially  now  that  the  preferences  in  the  British 
market  had  gone,  then  perhaps  a  new  St  Lawrence  route  of  steel 
could  win  the  day  for  what  was  still  the  most  direct  path  between 
the  sea  and  the  heart  of  the  continent. 

Accordingly,  contracts  for  building  the  railway  were  let  to  a 
British  engineering  firm,  and  British  money,  backed  by  the  great 
British  financial  name  of  Baring,  was  freely  invested  in  the  new 
Grand  Trunk.  The  Canadian  government  poured  in  money  too, 
by  borrowing  large  sums  to  put  towards  the  cost  of  the  line.  The 
weight  of  these  debts  came  to  be  a  steadily  growing  burden  on  the 
Canadian  taxpayer.  As  construction  advanced,  the  railway  com- 
pany had  to  appeal  repeatedly  for  more  aid  from  the  provincial 
government,  which  meant  more  public  debts.  But  by  1859  the 
tracks  had  been  laid  from  Quebec  to  the  western  end  of  the  pro- 
vince, and  the  St  Lawrence  and  Atlantic  had  been  taken  into  the 
GrandTmnk.Theresultwasthelongestrailwayin  the  world  in  that 
day,  1,100  miles  in  length.  Yet  from  the  first  it  did  not  pay.  By  1861 
the  Grand  Trunk  was  bankrupt  and  owed  thirteen  million  dollars. 

Again  the  best  hopes  of  the  St  Lawrence  interests  had  failed. 
It  was  the  old  story:  New  York  and  the  Hudson  valley  had  once 
more  defeated  Montreal  and  the  St  Lawrence  in  a  commercial 
contest  that  began  with  the  fur  trade.  When  canal  barges  had  re- 
placed fur-canoes,  the  Erie  canal  had  conquered  for  New  York 
City.  When  the  St  Lawrence  had  built  canals,  New  York  had  built 
railways.  When  the  St  Lawrence  built  its  Grand  Trunk  it  came 
too  late  and  it  was  too  expensive  to  win  the  American  western  trade 
away.  The  much  bigger  American  population  again  meant  greater 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 

traffic  and  lower  rates  for  the  railways  in  the  United  States.  New 
York's  port  facilities  were  larger  and  cheaper  than  Montreal's  and 
on  the  open  sea  all  the  year  around. 

Yet  though  the  Grand  Trunk  failed  in  its  main  purpose,  tiae 
railway-building  era  was  by  no  means  a  failure  for  British  North 
America.  Perhaps  the  American  western  trade  was  not  gained, 
but  there  was  a  growing  traffic  within  Canada  itself.  Though  this 
could  not  make  the  Grand  Trunk  a  paying  proposition  it  had  im- 
portant results  for  the  province  as  a  whole.  Its  districts  were 
joined  together,  towns  rose  rapidly  as  trading  centres.  The  colony 
grew  busier  and  richer.  Montreal  and  Toronto  forged  ahead  as 
the  capitals  of  a  thriving  Canadian  business  world.  The  railways, 
besides,  really  brought  the  Industrial  Revolution  to  British  North 
America.  Iron  foundries,  locomotive  shops,  rolling  mills,  ap- 
peared. Factories  sprang  up  in  the  larger  towns  to  produce  for 
all  the  regions  joined  by  railway  lines. 

Railways  also  brought  large  public  debts,  made  higher  tariffs 
necessary  to  raise  the  money  to  pay  them,  tied  the  government  to 
the  fate  of  railway  companies,  and  caused  extravagence  and  cor- 
ruption in  politics.  Yet  it  would  be  hard  to  say  that  they  were  not 
worth  the  price.  With  the  scream  of  the  locomotive  whistle 
through  the  dark  Canadian  forests,  the  pounding  of  the  wide- 
stacked  engines  and  swaying  cars  through  the  backwoods,  pioneer 
loneliness  and  hardships  fell  away.  In  the  mid-nineteenth  century 
railway-building  carried  British  North  America  out  of  the  pioneer 
age.  The  Railway  Revolution  went  hand-in-hand  with  the  Com- 
mercial Revolution. 

But  more  than  this,  railways  led  toward  union.  If  their  tracks 
had  linked  up  the  province  of  Canada,  they  could  join  Canada 
and  the  Maritimes — or  Canada  and  the  Pacific.  New  inter- 
provincial  contacts  and  trade  could  come  with  them.  Moreover, 
the  very  problems  raised  by  railways  suggested  British  American 
union  as  an  answer.  If  separate  provinces  could  not  agree  on  con- 
structing a  line  from  Quebec  to  Halifax,  could  not  one  country 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 

build  it?  And  if  the  Grand  Trunk  could  not  pay  within  Canada, 
could  it  not  pay  if  it  were  extended  across  the  whole  continent, 
and  one  large  country  shouldered  the  cost? 

The  point  was  that  the  Grand  Trunk  had  failed  because  it 
reached  only  the  American  West,  and  insufficient  American  traffic 
had  come  to  it.  But  to  the  north  west,  beyond  the  province  of 
Canada,  lay  great  tracts  of  land  under  the  British  flag  that  stretched 
to  the  Pacific.  If  these  could  be  opened  up  by  railway  lines,  and 
a  union,  the  Grand  Trunk  might  yet  succeed.  In  time  this 
thought  took  hold.  Gradually  attention  began  to  turn  from  the 
American  West  to  the  North  West  of  British  America,  where  the 
dream  of  a  trading  empire  tied  to  Montreal  and  the  St  Lawrence 
might  once  again  come  true,  just  as  it  had  in  fur-trade  days. 

3     The  Question  of  the  West 

In  1850  all  the  British  lands  beyond  the  province  of  Canada, 
from  the  Upper  Lakes  to  the  Arctic  and  Pacific  Oceans,  were  still 
under  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company,  as  they  had  been  since  1821. 
In  that  year  the  amalgamation  of  the  North  West  Company  with 
the  older  company  of  the  Bay  had  left  the  latter  in  undisputed 
mastery  of  the  vast  West.  In  Rupert's  Land  proper,  that  broad 
indefinite  region  that  drained  into  Hudson  Bay,  the  Company 
ruled  in  any  case  by  right  of  charter.  In  the  lands  beyond  it  hence- 
forth had  a  monopoly  of  trade,  and  carried  on  whatever  govern- 
ment there  was. 

Under  a  vigorous  governor,  Sir  George  Simpson,  who  ruled 
like  a  king  over  the  great  western  domain  during  most  of  this 
period,  Hudson's  Bay  government  was  orderly  and  efficient.  The 
tireless,  demanding  Simpson  kept  his  widely  scattered  posts  under 
almost  military  discipline.  The  Bay  Company  brought  law  to  the 
West  at  the  same  time  as  it  enjoyed  its  golden  years  of  fur-trade 
monopoly.  Simpson  kept  up  efficiency  by  constant  tours  through 
his  fur-trade  kingdom,  and  insisted  on  being  treated  with  the 
proper  ceremony  due  his  authority.  When  his  brigade  of  canoes 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,    1846-60 

would  sweep  up  to  a  fort  deep  in  the  wilderness,  flying  the  Com- 
pany's own  red  ensign,  the  fort  guns  would  boom  out  an  official 
salute  to  the  formal  little  top-hatted  figure  seated  stiffly  behind 
his  hard-paddling  voyageurs. 

But  although  Hudson's  Bay  Company  government  might  mean 
order  and  efficiency  in  the  fur  trade,  it  did  not  bring  settlement  to 
the  North  West.  As  always,  fur  trade  and  settlement  were  enemies. 
In  any  case  few  settlers  would  yet  have  gone  to  the  distant  West 
while  much  more  easily  available  land  could  be  found  in  the 
American  prairies  or,  under  the  British  flag,  in  the  Canadas  to  the 
east.  Yet  the  weakness  of  Company  rule  when  faced  with  an  on- 
rushing  tide  of  settlement  was  made  very  clear  in  the  case  of  the 
Oregon  country. 

The  Oregon  country  lay  on  the  Pacific  coast  between  California 
and  Alaska.  Fur  traders  from  Canada,  men  of  the  old  North  West 
Company,  had  first  opened  it  up  by  land.  During  the  war  of  1812 
they  had  driven  out  American  traders.  On  the  union  of  the  Hud- 
son's Bay  and  North  West  Companies,  accordingly,  the  Bay  Com- 
pany had  gained  effective  control  of  most  of  the  Oregon  trade. 
The  Convention  of  1818,  however,had  extended  the  boundary  line 
between  the  United  States  and  British  North  America  westward 
along  the  forty-ninth  parallel  from  the  Lake  of  the  Woods  to  the 
Rockies,  and  had  agreed  that  beyond  the  Rockies,  for  thetimebeing, 
Oregon  would  be  under  joint  British  and  American  occupation. 

This  uncertain  state  of  affairs  still  existed  in  the  1 840*5  when 
American  settlers  began  to  cross  the  continent  and  enter  the  fertile 
Pacific  slopes  of  the  southern  half  of  the  Oregon  country.  They 
formed  their  own  government  and  demanded  entrance  into  the 
American  union.  The  weak  Hudson's  Bay  posts  in  the  region  could 
do  nothing  about  this  move.  In  the  United  States  a  cry  went  up 
for  'fifty-four  forty  or  fight' :  that  is,  for  a  boundary  line  up  to 
Alaska,  then  held  by  Russia.  Preparations  for  war  were  begun. 
But  Britain  had  no  desire  to  fight,  and  endanger  Canada,  and  the 
United  States  was  on  the  verge  of  war  with  Mexico.  A  treaty  was 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,    1846-60 

signed  in  1846,  dividing  Oregon  by  extending  the  line  of  the  forty- 
ninth  parallel  to  the  Pacific,  but  leaving  all  Vancouver  Island  in 
British  hands. 

The  Oregon  Treaty  had  all  but  finished  the  division  of  the  con- 
tinent between  British  America  and  the  United  States.  It  had  also 
shown  the  danger  of  leaving  a  fur-trade  company  to  hold  a  region 
when  a  settlement  invaded  it.  Consequently,  the  imperial  govern- 
ment took  some  action  to  try  to  strengthen  the  British  position  in 
the  far  West.  In  1849  they  set  up  Vancouver  Island  as  a  Crown 
colony  and  sought  to  found  a  settlement  there.  The  Hudson's  Bay 
Company,  however,  was  granted  the  island  on  condition  of  estab- 
lishing settlers.  As  usual,  a  fur-trade  company  put  very  little  effort 
into  this  task,  and  the  colony  grew  very  slowly;  though  Victoria 
did  emerge  as  a  minor  port-of-call  and  a  miniature  capital. 

Then  in  1856  a  new  threat  loomed.  Gold  was  discovered  on  the 
empty  mainland  opposite  Vancouver  Island,  on  the  Fraser  river. 
American  miners  rushed  up  the  coast  into  the  gold  reefs  in  the 
canyons  of  the  Fraser.  A  wild  new  frontier  developed  overnight, 
and  there  was  the  danger  of  another  Oregon.  In  this  crisis,  the 
bold  James  Douglas,  governor  of  Vancouver  Island  and  chief 
Hudson's  Bay  official  there,  moved  rapidly.  He  proclaimed  his 
authority  over  the  mainland  and  at  once  enforced  order.  Courts 
were  set  up;  Royal  Engineers  acted  as  police.  The  miners  found 
this  a  very  different  frontier  under  British  law,  but  they  accepted 
and  obeyed  it. 

In  1858  a  separate  colony  of  British  Columbia  was  created  on 
the  mainland  with  Douglas  also  as  its  governor.  It  was  ruled  by 
governor  and  council;  Vancouver  Island  by  now  had  also  a  little 
'assembly3  of  seven  elected  members.  As  gold  discoveries  spread, 
the  Royal  Engineers  carved  a  soaring,  winding  roadway  along  the 
mountain  sides  to  the  Cariboo  gold  fields,  and  over  this  'Cariboo 
Road'  came  men  on  foot  and  riding,  pack  mules,  ox  wagons,  stage 
coaches,  and  even  camel  trains.  In  1862  the  coverlanders',  men 
from  Canada,  reached  the  Cariboo  fields.  They  crossed  bush, 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 

swamp,,  plain,  and  mountain  to  become  the  first  settlers  from 
eastern  Canada  in  what  would  some  day  be  the  Pacific  province  of 
a  transcontinental  dominion.  The  gold  rushes  died  away;  most  of 
the  American  miners  left.  Nevertheless  the  foundations  of  the 
modern  province  of  British  Columbia  had  been  laid,  and  the  rest 
of  the  British  Pacific  Coast  had  been  saved,  thanks  largely  to 
Douglas.  But  it  was  not  yet  secure.  Only  union  with  the  rest  of 
British  North  America  could  promise  any  permanent  sort  of 
answer  to  the  danger  of  an  'Oregon3  settlement. 

Such  an  answer,  however,  seemed  absurdly  remote  while  the 
whole  huge  territory  between  the  Rockies  and  the  Great  Lakes 
was  a  wilderness  dividing  the  eastern  colonies  from  the  tiny  pro- 
vinces of  the  Pacific.  In  all  this  lonely  land  only  at  the  Red  river 
was  there  any  settlement.  Here  Selkirk's  few  Scots  farmers  had 
hung  on  and  built  a  little  colony  around  Fort  Garry  (now  Winni- 
peg), the  chief  Hudson's  Bay  post  in  the  plains.  By  1850  there 
were  about  5,000  settlers  in  the  Red  River  Colony,  the  original 
group  having  been  increased  by  retiring  Hudson's  Bay  servants 
and  their  descendants,  often  French  or  Scottish  half-breeds.  Here 
also  the  Company  showed  no  wish  to  see  the  settlement  spread, 
though  at  its  existing  size  it  was  useful  as  a  supply  base  for  the 
posts  further  west. 

The  Red  river  inhabitants  accepted  this  state  of  affairs.  They 
felt  no  particular  desire  to  see  their  colony  grow  through  contact 
with  Canada  to  the  east.  They  had  no  real  ties  with  that  province 
and  the  few  Canadian  settlers  who  made  their  way  to  the  Red 
river  in  the  1850*3  were  frequently  unpopular.  This  was  largely 
because  they  wanted,  and  expected,  to  see  the  colony  joined  to 
the  province  of  Canada,  which  had  a  somewhat  thin  claim  to  the 
western  plains  running  back  to  the  French  period.  But  while  the 
people  of  Red  river  hoped  some  day  to  escape  the  absolute 
Hudson's  Bay  Company  control,  they  thought  of  separate  exist- 
ence as  a  Crown  colony,  not  of  union  with  a  far-off  and  unknown 
province  of  Canada. 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,    1846-60 

Yet  there  were  forces  making  for  union.  These  again  were 
bound  up  with  the  danger  of  approaching  American  settlement. 
The  westward  movement  of  the  frontier  in  the  United  States  was 
raising  a  whole  row  of  new  states  across  the  plains  and  American 
railways  were  creeping  steadily  west  and  northward.  American 
expansion  would  not  be  stopped  on  the  open  plains  by  a  fur  trade 
company,  any  more  than  in  Oregon.  Already  in  the  i85o's  the 
Red  river  was  being  tied  into  trade  with  the  American  state  of 
Minnesota,  and  a  small  American  element  was  appearing  in  the 
colony,  and  there  urging  annexation.  The  Canadians  in  the  Red 
river  in  alarm  called  on  Canada,  in  1857,  to  annex  the  colony 
first,  in  order  to  head  off  the  growing  danger  from  the  south. 

Meanwhile  in  Canada  there  was  increasing  support  for  such  a 
step,  and  in  Canada  West  in  particular.  Here  most  of  the  good 
farm  land  had  been  taken  up  by  the  early  i85O5s.  The  rest  of  the 
province  fell  within  the  rugged  Shield.  The  next  good  land  lay 
far  beyond  the  Shield  in  the  western  plains.  Thus  the  'land 
hunger'  of  Canada  West  fanners  was  reflected  in  a  demand  for 
Canada  to  take  over  the  North  West  and  the  Red  River  Colony 
from  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company. 

The  demand  was  most  strongly  voiced  by  the  so-called  'Clear 
Grit*  Reformers  of  Canada  West,  who  particularly  represented  the 
farming  element.  George  Brown,  their  powerful  leader,  also  had 
allies  in  the  Toronto  business  world,  which  had  schemes  of  its 
own  for  opening  the  North  West  and  gaining  its  trade.  Brown 
owned  the  Toronto  Globe.,  the  most  influential  newspaper  in 
Canada.  The  Globe  began  a  steady  campaign  for  acquiring  the 
West,  and  in  1857  the  Clear  Grits  adopted  this  demand  as  a  lead- 
ing party  aim.  In  the  same  year  the  British  government,  also 
worried  about  the  future  of  the  North  West  in  the  hands  of  the  fur 
trade,  opened  a  parliamentary  inquiry  into  the  position  of  the 
Hudson's  Bay  Company.  The  Canadian  government  sent  repre- 
sentatives to  London  to  press  its  claims  to  the  West.  The  inquiry, 
however,  decided  that  the  Hudson's  Bay  charter  of  1670  was  still 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 

valid,  although  the  Company's  monopoly  in  the  regions  beyond 
Rupert's  Land  was  to  end  in  1859.  As  for  the  Red  river,  it  might 
be  ceded  to  Canada  on  terms  reached  with  the  Company. 

Such  a  decision  left  things  as  they  were,  since  Canada  would 
not  yet  agree  to  pay  for  territory  which  she  had  claimed  as  her 
own,  and  which  she  could  not  yet  settle  in  the  absence  of  any 
system  of  communications.  And  as  Canada  did  not  assume 
control,  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company  was  left  in  actual  possession 
of  all  the  West.  Yet  the  threat  from  American  settlement  was  still 
present,  and  growing.  Union  remained  the  only  possible  answer, 
and  the  very  threat  would  one  day  make  it  necessary. 

4    Sectionalism  and  the  Canadian  Union 

The  question  of  union  really  came  to  a  head  in  the  province  of 
Canada.  Oddly  enough,  it  was  a  breakdown  of  union,  within 
Canada  itself,  which  finally  forced  the  issue,  since  the  Canadian 
troubles  led  to  a  discussion  of  new  forms  of  union  which  might 
include  all  the  provinces  of  British  North  America.  The  break- 
down was  due  to  the  violence  of  sectional  conflicts  in  Canada,  and 
these  in  turn  arose  from  the  unfortunate  terms  by  which  the  two 
old  Canadas  had  been  tied  together  in  the  Act  of  1840. 

It  will  be  remembered  that,  despite  Durham's  recommendation, 
Upper  and  Lower  Canada  had  been  given  equal  numbers  of  seats 
in  the  parliament  of  the  united  province.  Thus  a  clear-cut  division 
was  made  between  two  evenly  balanced  sections  in  the  new  pro- 
vince. Far  from  French-speaking  Canada  East  being  absorbed  in 
an  English-speaking  majority,  it  preserved  a  special  character.  It 
kept  its  own  system  of  laws,  land-holding,  and  Church  authority 
that  dated  back  to  the  Quebec  Act.  Its  racial  feelings  had  been 
newly  aroused  by  Durham's  hopes  of  assimilation.  Hence  the 
French  Canadians  drew  together  to  control  Canada  East,  and  to 
make  it  a  solid  block  in  the  politics  of  the  united  province.  Having 
equal  power,  this  block  could  not  be  overcome. 

In  fact,  since  the  great  majority  of  the  French  in  the  assembly 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,,    1846-60 

combined  into  one  group,  while  English  Canadians  were  divided 
into  various  groups  of  Tories  and  Reformers,  the  English-speaking 
majority  could  not  assert  its  total  strength.  Under  responsible 
government  as  a  result,  any  cabinet  had  to  be  a  loose  alliance  of 
French  and  English,  representing  equally  the  English-controlled 
Canada  West  and  the  French-controlled  Canada  East.  There  was 
really  a  double  premiership,  such  as  that  of  Baldwin  and  Lafontaine, 
with  a  leader  for  each  of  the  two  racial  and  sectional  divisions.  The 
very  capital  had  to  be  moved  every  four  years  from  Toronto  to 
Quebec,  because  Montreal  had  disgraced  itself  in  1849,  and  East 
and  West  could  not  agree  on  any  other  city. 

French  and  English  also  tended  to  have  different  political  ideas 
and  aims.  In  consequence,  any  government  was  bound  to  be  a 
shaky  alliance,  and  a  solid,  province-wide  party  system  cutting 
across  sectional  lines  was  impossible.  Under  these  conditions 
party  politics  tended  to  collapse  into  sectional  disputes  and  angry 
prejudices.  And  there  was  little  hope  of  any  remedy  as  long  as  the 
unsound  union  endured. 

Yet  the  union  did  have  great  value  in  overcoming  old  trade 
barriers  between  the  two  Canadas.  Geography  had  declared  that 
the  St  Lawrence  lands  were  one.  The  union  recognized  that  fact. 
Commercial  advance  and  growing  wealth  went  with  it,  even  while, 
politically,  the  united  province  was  falling  apart.  Thus  it  was  that 
any  return  to  two  separate  provinces  seemed  a  backward  step,  and 
in  the  long  run  the  principal  desire  was  to  recast  rather  than  to 
destroy  the  union.  And  the  powerful  St  Lawrence  interests,  who 
for  reasons  of  trade  had  always  sought  to  keep  the  St  Lawrence 
lands  united,  were  determined  to  avoid  a  separation. 

After  1850  the  demand  to  alter  the  form  of  union  came  mainly 
from  Canada  West.  Chiefly  because  of  continued  British  immigra- 
tion, its  population  had  climbed  level  with  Canada  East's,  and  now 
was  steadily  moving  ahead.  Year  by  year,  therefore,  the  scheme  of 
equal  representation  was  becoming  more  and  more  unreal.  Though 
Canada  West  had  more  inhabitants  it  still  had  no  more  seats  in 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 

parliament  than  Canada  East:  it  was  said  that  four  voters  in  the 
eastern  section  had  as  much  power  as  five  voters  in  the  western. 
But,  of  course,  most  of  the  French  Canadians  had  little  wish  to 
change  a  scheme  of  union  that  gave  them,  a  minority  group,  a 
position  of  practical  equality  and  provided  good  protection  for 
their  special  interests. 

Canada  West  complained,  however,  that  while  it  paid  much  the 
greater  share  of  taxes  most  of  the  public  money  was  spent  for 
Canada  East.  It  charged  that  government  was  under  Trench 
domination',  and  with  some  truth,  for  any  government  had  to 
depend  on  keeping  the  support  of  the  key  French  block  in  the 
assembly.  Accordingly,  a  rising  cry  went  up  in  the  western  section 
for  'representation  according  to  population*,  which  indeed  would 
alter  the  union  by  giving  Canada  West  a  majority  of  seats  in  parlia- 
ment. French  Canada  resisted  this  demand,  for  while  'rep  by 
pop'  would  create  a  true  union,  it  would  also  swamp  the 
French  vote  and  destroy  the  special  sectional  position  of  Canada 

Given  the  problem  of  sectionalism  in  the  union,  it  was  not 
surprising  that  the  old  party  lines  began  to  break  down  once  the 
question  of  responsible  government  had  been  settled.  After  the 
rights  of  self-government  had  been  won  there  was  little  to  keep 
the  French  and  English  Reformers  together.  The  Baldwin- 
Lafontaine  alliance,  that  had  formed  a  strong  majority  and  carried 
through  responsible  government,  rapidly  crumbled  away.  In  1851 
its  two  leaders  retired  from  parliament:.  They  had  had  enough  of 
the  bewildering  new  state  of  politics.  Many  Englisb-speaking  Re- 
formers in  Canada  West  wanted  to  press  on  with  a  reform  pro- 
gramme, in  which  the  responsible  system  had  been  only  the 
necessary  first  step.  But  the  French  Reformers  of  Canada  East 
drew  back,  revealing  their  basically  conservative  outlook.  Indeed, 
they  now  wished  above  all  to  conserve  the  favourable  position 
that  they  had  won  in  the  union. 

In  Canada  West,  however,  a  new  radical  movement  arose  that 


THE   QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 

was  impatient  with  even  the  main  body  of  English-speaking 
Reformers.  This  was  the  'Clear  Grit'  movement,  so  called  because 
it  wanted  only  pure-hearted  radicals,  men  who  were  'clear  grit'  all 
through.  The  Clear  Grits  were  largely  a  revival  of  the  old  radical 
group  that  had  followed  William  Lyon  Mackenzie  and  which  had 
been  submerged  after  his  defeat  and  during  the  leadership  of  the 
moderate  Robert  Baldwin.  Like  Mackenzie,  the  Grits  wanted  an 
elective  system  of  government  on  American  lines  rather  than  the 
British  cabinet  system,  and  they  began  to  seek  complete  democ- 
racy as  well — a  very  radical  idea  in  Canada  of  that  day.  The  Clear 
Grits  began,  moreover,  to  take  the  lead  in  the  demand  for  seculariz- 
ing the  clergy  reserves,  that  old  sore-spot  of  Upper  Canadian 
politics.  The  money  derived  from  the  sales  of  reserves  had  been 
divided  in  Sydenham's  time  among  the  leading  churches,  with 
the  Anglican  church  still  receiving  the  lion's  share.  But  seculariza- 
tion called  for  a  final  settlement  of  the  reserves,  and  for  turning 
the  funds  over  to  public  education. 

With  these  policies  the  Clear  Grits  made  a  rapid  advance  in 
Canada  West.  Meanwhile  a  somewhat  similar  radical  movement 
was  emerging  among  the  French  in  Canada  East.  This,  the  Parti 
Rouge,  was  partly  a  revival  of  Papineau  radicalism,  and  it  too 
believed  in  American-style  government  and  complete  democracy. 
Yet  the  Rouges  were  strong  French  nationalists  besides,  and 
attacked  the  British  connection.  They  also  attacked  what  they  con- 
sidered to  be  the  excessive  power  of  the  Catholic  clergy  in  French 
Canada,  and  this  anti-clericalism  only  weakened  their  chances 
among  a  people  devoted  to  its  church.  Hence,  unlike  the  Grits  in 
Canada  West,  the  Rouges  soon  ceased  to  make  headway.  If  any- 
thing, they  confirmed  the  mass  of  the  French  Canadians  in  their 

This  very  conservatism  made  possible  a  strange  new  political 
partnership.  The  main  French  group,  known  as  the  Bleus,  came 
to  ally  with  English-speaking  Tories — with  the  party  that  had 
formerly  condemned  the  French  Canadians  as  disloyal  and  had 


THE  QUESTION  OF   UNION,    1846-60 

tried  to  keep  them  from  political  power.  But  the  Tories,  after 
1850^  especially  as  influenced  by  bright  young  men  like  John  A. 
Macdonald,  were  growing  ready  to  accept  responsible  government 
and  French  political  power  as  accomplished  facts.  They  saw  that 
by  joining  forces  with  French  power  they  could  gain  a  majority 
and  govern  once  more,  even  under  the  responsible  system.  The 
Tory  merchants  of  Montreal,  the  centre  of  the  great  St  Lawrence 
business  interests,  soon  realized  that  with  French  support  such  a 
government  could  carry  through  their  railway  schemes  for  the  St 
Lawrence  route.  The  French  in  their  turn,  eager  to  protect  their 
Catholic  conservatism,  were  ready  to  make  terms  with  Toryism 
in  order  to  gain  a  political  majority,  even  at  the  price  of  dropping 
their  old  dislike  of  commercial  expansion. 

Therefore  the  St  Lawrence  commercial  Tories  lay  down  with 
their  old  French  enemies  in  a  common  conservatism.  They  agreed 
jointly  to  protect  French  rights  in  the  existing  union  and  to 
develop  English  business  interests.  With  them  were  allied  a 
moderate  group  of  Canada  West  Tories— or  Conservatives — 
under  John  A.  Macdonald  and  those  Canada  West  Reformers,  led 
by  Francis  Hincks,  who  opposed  the  Clear  Grit  radical  demands. 
These  'Hincksite*  Reformers  were  also  interested  in  business 
development  and  railway-building;  whereas  the  Grits,  being 
largely  western  farmers,  tended  to  be  suspicious  of  the  cost  and 
corruption  involved  in  these  policies. 

In  consequence,  in  1854,  the  Tory-French-Hincksite  combina- 
tion came  to  power  under  the  inspired  name  of  the  Liberal- 
Conservative  party.  The  party  was  to  have  a  long  record  in  Cana- 
dian history,  especially  under  the  gifted  master  politician  who  did 
much  to  shape  it,  John  A.  Macdonald.  It  was  to  be  distinguished 
for  both  nation-building  and  expensive,  or  even  corrupt,  politics. 
But  perhaps  it  was  most  distinguished  for  having  successfully 
combined  French  and  English  in  a  political  partnership  which, 
though  loose,  was  lasting,  and  fulfilled  Macdonald's  deep-felt 
desire  to  maintain  unity  in  Canada.  With  Macdonald  went  his 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,    1846-60 

close  and  constant  ally  as  French-Canadian  leader,  the  lively  and 
determined  Georges  Cartier.  It  was  a  notable  sign  of  the  French- 
English  alliance  that  Cartier  had  been  solicitor  for  the  new  Grand 
Trunk,  which  the  Liberal-Conservative  party  vigorously  pressed 
forward,  despite  debts,  scandal,  and  blistering  criticism. 

This  criticism  was  forcefully  directed  by  the  earnest  George 
Brown,  a  first-rate  journalist  who  began  to  rally  the  shattered 
forces  of  Reform  in  Canada  West.  An  ardent  admirer  of  the 
British  constitution  and  friend  of  the  British  tie.  Brown  had  at 
first  sharply  opposed  the  'bunkum-talking  cormorants',  the  Clear 
Grits,  in  his  Toronto  Globe.  But  in  1851  he  entered  politics  to 
battle  for  the  separation  of  church  and  state;  that  is,  to  prevent 
any  church  being  supported  or  recognized  by  the  government:  a 
popular  cause  in  Protestant  Canada  West,  especially  among  Clear 
Grits.  Brown  pressed  for  the  secularization  of  the  reserves,  to  end 
Anglican  privileges.  He  also  opposed  bills  for  establishing  state- 
supported  Catholic  schools  in  Canada  West,  which,  he  said,  would 
undermine  the  existing  system  of  general  public  education.  He 
claimed  that  the  bills  to  found  'separate'  schools  in  the  largely 
Protestant  West  were  the  result  of  French-Catholic  domination 
of  the  government.  This  separate  school  question  would  long  con- 
tinue to  trouble  Canadian  politics. 

The  Liberal-Conservative  Coalition  of  1854,  however,  at  least 
agreed  to  secularize  the  clergy  reserves;  and  also  to  do  away  with 
the  seigneurial  system  in  Lower  Canada,  which  had  now  been  out- 
grown, and  was  unpopular  among  the  French  Canadians.  Mean- 
while Brown  and  the  Grits  came  together  to  oppose  the  Coalition 
and  'French-Catholic  domination*.  They  demanded  representa- 
tion by  population.  With  this  cry,  and  attacks  on  the  costly  failure 
of  the  government's  Grand  Trunk  policies,  Brown  increasingly 
swung  Canada  West  behind  the  Clear  Grits.  At  the  same  time 
his  strong-minded  leadership  brought  them  to  drop  their  early 
support  of  American  democratic  ideas.  George  Brown  made  the 
Grits  much  more  a  regular  (and  respectable)  British  Liberal  party, 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,    1846-60 

believing  in  free  trade,  parliamentary  government,  and  the  British 

Yet  as  Brown  and  the  Grits  swept  ahead  in  Canada  West,  the 
Rouges,  led  by  A.  A.  Dorion,  fell  behind  in  Canada  East.  They 
were  Brown's  natural  Liberal  allies,  but  his  attacks  on  French 
power  and  their  dislike  of  the  bond  with  Britain  made  any  working 
agreements  between  them  far  less  successful  than  those  between 
Macdonald  and  the  main  French  group.  As  a  result,  a  Brown- 
Dorion  government  formed  in  1858  lasted  only  two  days. 

But  the  very  fact  that  one  came  to  be  formed  at  all,  showed  how 
sectionalism  was  undermining  the  Conservative  strength.  The 
Macdonald-Cartier  government  had  fallen,  indeed,  because  a  num- 
ber of  its  French  supporters  had  left  it  temporarily  when  Ottawa 
had  been  chosen  as  the  new  capital  of  Canada.  They  did  not  like 
the  capital  going  to  English-speaking  Canada  West,  even  if  the 
choice  was  not  Toronto,  and  although  Ottawa  lay  in  the  middle, 
on  the  river  separating  the  two  sections  of  the  province.  Carrier 
and  Macdonald  returned  to  power  after  this  brief  French  protest. 
But  the  strange  shifts  and  devices  which  they  had  to  adopt  to  form 
a  government— known  as  the  Double  Shuffle— showed  that  they 
too  were  in  a  weak  position. 

In  short,  government  was  failing.  Canada  West  was  becoming 
increasingly  Clear-Grit  Liberal,  insisting  on  'rep  by  pop';  Canada 
East  increasingly  French  Conservative,  or  Bleu,  determined  to 
resist  the  demand.  The  Canadian  union  was  splitting  into  two 
hopelessly  opposed  and  equally  balanced  halves.  Final  deadlock 
did  not  come  until  the  i86o's.  Yet  its  shadow  was  already  there. 
Thus  it  was  that  from  both  Liberal  and  Conservative  sides  plans 
for  new  kinds  of  union  were  now  put  forward.  They  led  to  the 
great  plan  of  Confederation,  the  linking  of  all  the  provinces  of 
British  America.  Thanks  to  the  pressing  problems  of  Canada,  the 
largest  province,  the  question  of  union  took  on  new  urgency.  Out 
of  the  sectional  struggles  came  a  driving  force  that  went  on  to 
mould  a  new  nation  in  North  America. 


THE  QUESTION  OF  UNION,   1846-60 



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Proposed  Intercolonial  Railway 



THE  QUESTION  OP  UNION,   1846-60 




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I    The  Movements  Within 

On  i  July  1867^  the  separate  colonies  of  British  North  America 
united  in  Confederation  to  become  the  Dominion  of  Canada.  The 
seven  years  before  were  one  of  the  most  important  periods  in 
Canadian  history.  During  those  years,  powerful  movements  with- 
in the  colonies  and  strong  pressures  from  outside  carried  British 
North  America  onward  to  Confederation.  They  answered  the 
question  of  union.  It  took  a  few  years  more  before  the  new 
Dominion  stretched  completely  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Pacific, 
but  the  final  stage,  that  of  bringing  in  the  Great  West,  was  already 
decreed  by  the  successful  uniting  of  the  main  provinces  in  1867. 
The  advance  to  Confederation  at  that  date  was  the  all-important 
achievement.  It  is  one  of  the  most  compelling  stories  in  Canadian 

Picture  the  colonies  of  British  America  in  1860,  when  the  story 
begins.  On  the  Pacific  shores  are  two  little  outposts,  Vancouver 
Island  and  British  Columbia,  linked  only  by  sea  with  the  outside 
world.  Between  them  and  Canada  by  land  lie  two  thousand  miles 
of  silence,  of  mountains,  endless  plains,  and  the  bush-country  of 
the  Shield.  Only  the  cluster  of  farms  at  Red  river  breaks  this 
empty  expanse.  But  south  of  the  forty-ninth  parallel  the  restless, 
ever-spreading  flood  of  American  settlement  is  sweeping  up  over 
the  prairies.  Beyond  the  Great  Lakes,  in  Canada,  where  some 
voices  are  raised  in  warning  for  the  West,  the  St  Lawrence  pro- 
vince is  racked  with  angry  sectionalism,  turned  in  upon  itself.  Yet 
while  parties  wrangle  and  French  and  English  accuse  each  other 
of  wrecking  the  union,  the  hum  of  mills  and  factories  begins  to 
rise,  railway  lines  creep  east  and  west.  And  the  feeling  grows  that 



sectional  troubles,  trade  development,  railways,  all  point  to  a  new 
and  grander  union. 

On  the  Atlantic  coast,  meanwhile,  the  Maritime  provinces  are 
glorying  in  the  height  of  the  age  of  wood,  wind  and  water.  Water- 
driven  local  industries,  easy  water  transport,  wood  for  their  tall 
wind-ships :  the  Maritimes  are  well  provided  with  these.  They 
have  brought  golden  prosperity.  But  what  of  the  future?  How 
will  the  Maritimes  fare  in  the  approaching  age  of  iron  and  coal,  of 
large  steam-driven  factories,  railways  and  steel  steamships?  The 
Atlantic  provinces  have  far  less  resources  for  this  new  era.  They 
must  plan  carefully  for  the  future.  One  of  their  most  cherished 
plans  is  for  a  railway  to  link  their  ocean  ports  with  Canada  and  the 
West.  Then  in  an  age  of  steam  and  steel  the  Maritime  ports,  closer 
to  Europe  than  those  of  the  United  States,  may  still  flourish, 
pouring  forth  the  rich  trade  of  the  continental  interior.  But  the 
Martimes  cannot  build  an  Intercolonial  Railway  alone.  They  may 
be  led  to  unite  with  Canada  in  order  to  arrange  and  pay  for  the 
expensive  line. 

Canada  is  still  a  far-away  and  strange  place  to  the  Maritimers, 
who  look  with  doubt  on  the  stormy  Canadian  record  of  rebellion 
and  racial  conflict,  and  pride  themselves  on  their  own  loyal  and 
orderly  political  development.  Yet  thoughts  of  a  great  British 
American  union  linking  the  Atlantic  with  the  Pacific  are  not  un- 
known in  the  eastern  provinces.  And  was  it  not  Nova  Scotia's  own 
Joseph  Howe  who  predicted  in  1851  that  some  of  his  audience 
would  live  to  hear  the  whistle  of  the  locomotive  in  the  passes  of 
the  Rockies? 

This,  then,  was  British  America  in  1860,  and  some  of  the  stir- 
rings in  its  mind.  Proposals  to  investigate  the  prospects  of  union 
had  already  been  heard  in  the  Maritime  parliaments.  But  the 
most  definite  proposals  had  been  put  forward  in  Canada,  by  far 
the  biggest  province.  Here  the  idea  of  federal  union  had  been 
taken  up,  and  this  was  a  most  fruitful  suggestion.  The  British 
American  colonies  were  actually  too  divided  by  geography  and 



distance,  too  different  in  their  interests,  to  see  themselves  swal- 
lowed up  in  a  complete,  or  legislative,  union  under  one  govern- 
ment. The  smaller  ones  would  find  themselves  powerless  to 
protect  their  special  interests  because  the  bigger  provinces,  con- 
taining a  majority  of  the  population,  would  regularly  be  in  control. 
French  Canada,  on  the  other  hand,  would  be  fearful  for  its  parti- 
cular rights  in  a  largely  English-speaking  British  American  state. 

A  looser,  federal  form  of  union,  however,  would  meet  the 
difficulty.  Under  federalism  the  powers  necessary  to  maintain  a 
single  large  state  would  be  given  to  a  central  government  while 
those  matters  of  regional  or  sectional  importance  would  be  kept 
for  provincial  governments.  The  United  States  supplied  the  ob- 
vious example  of  how  a  federation  could  overcome  the  problem  of 
North  American  distances  and  regionalism.  In  the  Canadian  case 
the  movement  for  federal  union  went  under  the  name  of  Con- 
federation, as  if  to  distinguish  it  from  the  American  example.  But 
the  essential  plan  and  purpose  were  the  same. 

In  1858  Alexander  Gait  had  proposed  a  British  American  con- 
federation in  the  Canadian  assembly.  He  suggested  that  the 
federal  principle  could  be  applied  to  a  general  union  of  Canada 
East,  Canada  West,  and  the  Maritime  provinces.  Gait,  a  leader 
of  the  Montreal  business  world,  shortly  afterwards  joined  the 
Cartier-Macdonald  government  as  Minister  of  Finance.  Here  he 
was  responsible  for  the  'protective'  tariff  of  1859,  which  by  raising 
the  duties  against  British  manufactured  goods  had  protected  Cana- 
dian manufacturers  and  caused  an  outcry  in  freer  trade  Britain. 
Gait  had  entered  the  Conservative  government  of  Macdonald  and 
Cartier  on  their  promise  to  take  up  his  project  for  general  federa- 
tion at  the  Colonial  Office.  Such  a  change  in  the  constitutions  of 
British  America  would,  of  course,  still  require  action  by  the  im- 
perial parliament.  But  Britain  showed  that  she  was  not  yet 
interested  in  a  general  union,  particularly  because  the  other  colo- 
nies had  so  far  not  pressed  for  it.  Therefore  the  Cartier-Macdonald 
government  let  the  matter  drop,  having  fulfilled  their  oromise ;  for 



aside  from  Gait  they  were  not  yet  convinced  of  the  need  for  such 
a  federation. 

Nevertheless  the  Liberal-Conservative  side  in  politics  had  thus 
proposed  federation.  Next  the  Reformers.,  or  Liberals,  under 
George  Brown,  took  it  up,  although  they  sought  only  a  federal 
union  of  the  two  Canadas.  In  1859  a  crowded  Clear  Grit  conven- 
tion in  Toronto  endorsed  a  plan,  backed  by  Brown,  that  would 
remove  the  sources  of  sectional  conflict  yet  preserve  the  merits  of 
the  existing  union.  It  aimed  at  setting  up  a  general  authority  for 
both  Canadas  and  two  provincial  governments  to  handle  subjects 
of  sectional  or  racial  concern.  And  Brown  in  a  mighty  speech  full 
of  vision  and  persuasion  made  clear  that  this  plan  was  to  be  the 
first  step  in  building  a  great  British  American  nation. 

For  several  years  after  the  Convention,  however,  the  Clear  Grits 
still  hoped  to  gain  representation  by  population,  and  concentrated 
on  that  rather  than  federation.  But  French  Canada  would  not 
yield  crep  by  pop'  and  be  swamped  by  the  English  in  parliament. 
Hence  the  sectional  struggle  dragged  on.  No  government  could 
last  long.  Neither  Conservative  or  Liberal  cabinets  could  find  a 
secure  province-wide  majority  when  the  West  was  falling  ever 
more  completely  into  the  hands  of  the  Grit  Liberals,  and  the  East 
to  the  French  Conservatives.  Macdonald,  his  own  Conservative 
support  sinking  in  Canada  West,  strove  gamely  and  skilfully  to 
build  cabinets  and  to  make  the  union  work.  But  government  was 
slowing  to  a  halt.  By  June  of  1864  there  had  been  two  elections 
and  four  governments  in  the  previous  three  years.  None  had 
succeeded;  little  work  could  be  done.  Clearly  the  union  could  not 
continue  on  this  basis. 

2     The  Great  Coalition  in  Canada 

As  hopeless  deadlock  settled  down  on  the  province  of  Canada  in 
1864,  George  Brown  carefully  but  firmly  stepped  forward.  He 
proposed  a  parliamentary  committee  to  discuss  the  problem  on  a 
non-party  basis  and  suggest  the  best  solution.  Here  was  a  states- 



man-like  act,  seemingly  unlike  Brown.  It  had  often  been  charged, 
with  some  justice,  that  Brown's  violent  outbursts  against  French- 
Catholic  power  and  Conservative  corruption  had  done  much  to 
embitter  provincial  politics;  though  it  might  also  be  claimed  that 
the  roots  of  bitterness  were  there  without  George  Brown.  At  any 
rate,  the  impatient  and  hot-tempered  Scot,  warm  friend  and  grim 
enemy,  had  of  late  been  showing  surprising  restraint.  He  had 
decided  that  the  dangerous  question  of  the  union  must  now  be 
settled,  and  could  only  be  settled  by  moderation  and  a  turning- 
away  from  sectional  and  party  strife. 

He  soon  made  clear  this  decision  of  immense  consequence.  In 
June  of  1864  Brown's  committee  reported  to  the  assembly,  recom- 
mending a  federal  union  of  all  the  colonies  or  at  least  of  the  two 
Canadas.  On  that  very  day  yet  one  more  cabinet  fell,  and  Brown 
announced  that  he  was  willing  to  form  any  government  with  the 
Conservatives  that  would  be  devoted  to  solving  the  problem  of 
union.  Willing  to  join  with  his  worst  enemies — it  was  a  brave  and 
dramatic  move.  At  once  the  political  picture  changed.  Deadlock 
vanished.  A  strong  government  of  both  Liberals  and  Conserva- 
tives could  readily  be  formed  to  end  the  sectional  evils.  No  wonder 
the  assembly  burst  into  cheers  when  they  heard  the  news.  No 
wonder  an  excitable  little  French  Canadian  member  dashed  across 
the  floor  and  flung  his  arms  happily  about  the  towering,  and 
startled,  Liberal  leader. 

The  coalition  government  that  was  now  formed,  the  'Great 
Coalition'  of  1864,  agreed  that  it  would  first  seek  a  general  British 
American  federation  and,  if  that  failed,  would  then  bring  in  a 
federal  union  for  the  two  Canadas  with  provisions  for  including 
the  West.  The  first  and  larger  scheme  thus  represented  the  original 
Conservative  proposal  made  by  Gait,  the  second,  the  plan  of  the 
Clear  Grit  Convention  of  1859.  Brown,  who  now  entered  the 
government  with  Macdonald,  Gait,  and  Cartier,  was  quite  satis- 
fied if  the  first  could  be  won,  since  in  any  case  it  included  the 
smaller  Liberal  scheme  of  federating  the  union  between  the  two 



Canadas.  And  federation  would  mean  that  in  the  central  govern- 
ment Canada  West  would  receive  the  proper  number  of  members 
that  its  population  deserved;  there  would  be  representation  by 
population.  Canada  West  would  also  obtain  its  own  provincial 
government,  to  look  after  the  sectional  interests  that  had  been 
interfered  with  under  the  Trench  domination'  of  the  old  union, 
In  addition,  Brown,  as  a  British  American  nationalist  (though 
none  the  less  devoted  to  the  imperial  bond),  could  enter  eagerly 
into  the  project  for  building  a  continent-wide  union. 

On  the  Conservative  side  there  were  also  grounds  for  satis- 
faction. For  Macdonald  and  his  English-speaking  followers,  it 
meant  a  continued  share  of  power  when  they  had  felt  themselves 
slipping.  The  unity  of  the  St  Lawrence  they  had  fought  to  save 
would  not  be  lost.  It  would  be  built  into  a  larger  whole.  Further- 
more, Conservatives  had  been  more  interested  than  Liberals  in 
the  suggestion  of  union  with  the  Maritimes  and  in  building  the 
accessary  Intercolonial  Railway  to  give  that  union  meaning.  Now 
the  railway-building  party  could  plan  the  eastward  expansion, 
while  the  'land-hungry'  Clear  Grits  could  look  to  bringing  in  the 
West.  French  Canada,  too,  could  find  its  rights  safeguarded  under 
federalism,  which  would  leave  its  language,  kws  and  religion  safe 
under  a  French-Canadian  provincial  government  Hence  Cartier 
joined  with  Macdonald  in  accepting  the  offer  of  alliance  that 
Brown  had  made.  Carrier's  acceptance  was  no  less  brave  and 
statesmanlike  than  Brown's  offer.  It  was  brave  to  join  with  the 
man  his  French  supporters  hated  most;  and  it  was  statesmanlike, 
despite  their  suspicions,  to  see  that,  while  French  Canada  could 
not  hold  out  for  ever  in  the  old  union  against  the  demands  of  the 
English  majority,  federation  offered  it  every  necessary  protection. 

Brown  and  Cartier  were  perhaps  the  vital  figures  at  this  critical 
stage  in  the  movement  for  confederation  since  they  controlled  the 
largest  blocks  of  votes  in  the  Canadian  parliament.  Yet  also  im- 
portant in  the  province  of  Canada  were  Gait,  the  far-seeing 
financier,  who  had  first  put  forward  the  confederation  plan,  and 



Thomas  D'Arcy  McGee,  the  brilliant  Irish  orator,  whose  national 
vision  of  a  dominion  from  sea  to  sea  put  fire  into  the  movement 
and  aroused  wide  popular  support.  Above  them  all  in  the  long 
run,  however,  rose  the  ambling,  friendly  figure  of  John  A.  Mac- 

He  had  been  lukewarm  towards  federation  almost  to  the  last. 
He  had  fought  always  to  make  the  existing  union  work.  But  when 
the  sweeping  scheme  of  general  confederation  was  adopted  as  the 
first  aim  of  the  Coalition  of  1864,  Macdonald  came  into  his  own. 
It  caught  his  imagination.  This  was  union  in  a  larger  realm,  and 
it  was  the  idea  of  a  firm  and  powerful  union  that  Macdonald 
stressed  above  all.  His  tactful  diplomacy  and  ready  good  humour 
did  much  to  carry  it  through  in  the  discussions  that  followed  with 
the  other  colonies.  He  left  his  mark  on  the  strong  structure  of 
federal  union  that  was  finally  adopted  for  the  Dominion.  And  his 
long  career  of  nation-building — that  really  began  with  the  Coali- 
tion of  1864 — deservedly  makes  John  A.  Macdonald  appear  as  the 
greatest  Father  of  a  Confederation  which  other  men  set  under  way. 

Yet  the  work  of  Confederation  had  only  begun  with  the  forma- 
tion of  the  Great  Coalition  in  Canada.  While  the  largest  province 
had  definitely  set  the  movement  going,  the  other  provinces,  and 
Britain,  had  not  yet  spoken.  It  was  largely  Canada's  own  internal 
difficulties  which  had  led  it  to  act  first.  Perhaps  the  other  pro- 
vinces, not  facing  these  problems,  would  not  feel  the  same  urge 
towards  federation.  Fortunately,  however,  there  were  other  forces, 
from  outside  British  America,  which  affected  all  the  colonies  and 
pressed  them  on  towards  union.  These  outside  influences  came 
from  both  Britain  and  the  United  States.  But  in  particular,  they 
stemmed  from  the  American  Civil  War,  and  the  grave  problems 
it  raised  for  British  North  America. 

3     The  Forces  Without 

In  1 86 1  the  great  and  terrible  Civil  War  broke  out  in  the  United 
States.  From  the  start  the  British  American  colonies  were  affected. 



It  was  not  merely  that  an  earnest  dislike  of  slavery  bound  their 
attention  to  the  war  so  close  at  hand,  and  even  led  some  Canadians 
to  fight  in  the  Northern  armies  against  the  slave-holding  South.  It 
was  rather  that  bad  feelings  between  Britain  and  the  American 
North  threatened  to  involve  the  British  provinces  in  war  them- 
selves. For  in  the  event  of  war  between  Britain  and  the  United 
States  the  Americans  would  strike  at  the  closest  British  territory. 
The  colonies  would  be  invaded.,  as  in  the  war  of  1812;  but  this 
time  they  would  face  a  far  stronger  foe,  who  had  one  of  the  largest 
armies  in  the  world. 

The  hard  feelings  between  Britain  and  the  United  States  were 
the  results  of  faults  on  both  sides.  In  Britain,  old  anti-American 
prejudices  were  expressed  in  a  belief,  or  perhaps  a  hope,  that  the 
United  States  had  finally  failed.  There  was  a  tendency  in  some 
quarters  to  look  on  the  South  as  a  new  and  separate  nation  and  to 
decry  the  Northern  efforts  to  restore  the  American  union.  On  the 
American  side  there  was  fire-eating  talk  of 'punishing'  Britain  for 
being  too  friendly  to  Southern  rebels,  and  there  were  suggestions 
that  the  American  armies  could  find  better  employment  in  the 
conquest  of  Canada.  Nor  was  the  feeling  entirely  absent  that  a 
war  against  the  old  British  enemy  of  American  Revolutionary  days 
would  close  the  breach  in  the  republic  and  turn  its  warlike  passions 
outward.  However,  despite  the  fire-eaters,  cooler  counsels  in 
government  circles  on  both  sides  of  the  Atlantic  prevented  such  a 
tragic  conflict.  But  the  people  of  the  time  could  hardly  be  sure 
that  a  war  would  not  break  out. 

For  British  America,  in  particular,  the  first  battlefield  of  such  a 
war,  there  was  a  new  period  of  strain  in  relations  with  the  United 
States,  Looking  back  on  history,  one  can  see  that  the  general  peace 
between  Canada  and  the  United  States  dates  from  1815;  but  in 
the  mid-nineteenth  century  there  was  no  sense  at  all  that  permanent 
peace  had  yet  been  secured.  There  had  long  been  boundary  prob- 
lems and  mutual  suspicion.  There  had  been  border  fighting  in 
1838  and  a  war-scare  over  Oregon  in  1846.  Why  should  the  Civil 



War  of  the  i86o's  not  release  a  new  and  desperate  struggle? 
Through  most  of  that  decade  the  strain  continued.  It  did  not  end 
when  peace  had  been  restored  in  the  United  States  in  1865,  for 
now  there  was  a  fear  that  the  victorious  Northern  forces,  freed 
from  their  tasks  in  the  south,  might  be  turned  against  Canada. 

It  was  during  these  years  of  strain,  of  repeated  crises,  that 
Confederation  was  achieved.  In  part,  Confederation  was  an  at- 
tempt to  band  together  the  strength  of  British  North  America  to 
resist  any  American  threat.  The  United  States,  therefore,  not  only 
supplied  an  example  for  a  new  northern  federation :  it  supplied  an 
urgent  reason  for  it.  A  union  would  at  least  be  better  equipped  to 
meet  the  general  problem  of  British  American  defence.  As  the 
Civil  War  progressed,  and  quarrels  flared  between  the  United 
States  and  Britain,  the  question  of  defence  loomed  ever  greater  in 
the  northern  provinces.  A  sense  of  urgency  began  to  invade  the 
discussions  of  union.  As  D'Arcy  McGee  put  it,  the  opening  guns 
of  the  Civil  War  had  warned  Canada  that  she  might  sleep  no  more, 
except  in  arms,  in  constant  readiness  to  defend  herself. 

Now  this  awareness  of  a  defence  problem  varied  considerably 
throughout  British  North  America.  The  colonies  of  Newfound- 
land, Prince  Edward  Island  and  Nova  Scotia,  for  instance,  felt 
secure  enough  under  the  protection  of  the  Royal  Navy.  But  New 
Brunswick,  and  Canada  especially,  had  long  land  frontiers  to 
guard.  Canada  West  was  the  most  exposed,  the  furthest  from 
British  aid.  Even  here,  however,  there  were  many,  George  Brown 
among  them,  who  felt  that  certain  angry-voiced  American  news- 
papers did  not  represent  the  good  sense  of  the  American  people  or 
government :  that  there  was  no  reason  to  fear  war.  Still,  there  was 
always  the  possibility  to  be  guarded  against,  and  several  alarming 
incidents  sharply  brought  home  the  unprepared  state  of  the  British 

The  first  of  these  incidents  was  the  Trent  affair  of  November, 
1861.  Two  Southern  envoys  to  Britain  were  seized  in  high-handed 
fashion  from  the  British  steamer  Trent  by  a  United  States  warship 



at  sea.  Restraint  by  both  British  and  American  governments 
avoided  war,  and  the  envoys  were  set  free.  But  the  problem  of 
defending  British  territory  in  America  became  suddenly  plain. 
Over  ten  thousand  British  reinforcements  were  hastily  shipped  to 
Canada  while  the  danger  of  war  was  at  its  height.  To  reach  the  St 
Lawrence  colony  in  winter  they  had  to  go  overland  in  sleighs  from 
New  Brunswick  by  the  Madawaska  csnow  road'.  If  there  had  been 
war,  much  of  Canada  might  already  have  been  lost  before  their 
arrival.  Accordingly  the  British  government  began  an  inquiry 
into  the  reorganization  of  Canadian  defences,  while  the  provincial 
government  had  to  make  plans  for  raising  a  larger  and  more 
effective  militia  force  to  aid  the  regular  troops. 

There  were  other  incidents.  In  1864,  for  example,  a  band  of 
Southerners  (many  of  whom  had  sought  refuge  in  Canada)  slipped 
over  the  provincial  border  to  raid  the  town  of  St  Albans  in  Ver- 
mont. The  provincial  government  acted  to  seize  the  raiders  on 
their  return  to  Canada,  but  not  firmly  enough  to  suit  Americans, 
who  felt  that,  at  the  least,  the  Canadians  were  not  patrolling  their 
borders  properly,  and,  at  the  most,  were  aiding  the  Southern 
rebels.  The  United  States  government  put  strong  controls  on 
border  crossings  to  Canada  and  announced  that  it  might  have  to 
rearm  on  the  Great  Lakes,  left  free  of  warships  since  1817,  in 
order  to  protect  its  boundary.  American  warships  on  the  Lakes 
would  require  British  warships  there  too :  the  thunder  of  naval 
guns,  silent  since  1815,  might  be  heard  again  on  these  freshwater 

Fortunately,  the  Civil  War  in  the  republic  came  to  an  end  in  the 
spring  of  1865,  and  the  United  States  did  not  move  to  rearm  on 
the  Lakes.  Yet  a  spirit  of  resentment  was  left  on  the  American 
side  of  the  line.  When  the  following  year  saw  raiding  in  the  oppo- 
site direction  the  American  authorities  did  little  to  check  it.  These 
new  raids  were  the  work  of  the  Fenians,  an  Irish  revolutionary 
group  dedicated  to  ending  British  rule  over  Ireland.  If  they  could 
not  reach  Ireland,  at  least  their  powerful  Irish-American  sup- 



porters— often  discharged  soldiers  from  the  Northern  armies— 
could  do  the  next  best  thing  and  attack  British  lands  in  Nortf 
America.  Fenians  massed  at  points  along  the  border  in  1866.  Thej 
made  only  one  actual  invasion  of  Canada,  near  the  village  of  For 
Erie  in  the  Niagara  peninsula,  where  local  militia  threw  them  bacl 
after  three  days  of  alarms  and  excitement.  Yet  the  threat  of  Feniai 
raids  was  widespread.  An  attempt  on  New  Brunswick  helped  tc 
convince  that  province  that  strength  lay  in  unity,  and  so  inclinec 
it  more  towards  the  plan  of  British  American  federation. 

Militia  marched  and  counter-marched  in  the  colonies,  and  th< 
same  kind  of  enthusiasm  and  feelings  of  common  loyalty  wer< 
roused  as  in  the  days  of  1812  or  the  American  raids  of  1838.  I 
was  clear  to  the  colonists  that  Fenian  attacks  were  an  annoyana 
rather  than  a  real  menace  to  their  safety.  The  Fenians  were  no 
the  United  States  army.  The  American  government  made  no  mov< 
towards  war,  and  finally  checked  Fenianism  when  that  movemen 
was  dying  of  its  own  failure.  Yet  the  raids  did  reveal  American  un 
friendliness,  and  underlined  the  need  to  show  that  the  colonie 
would  stand  together  to  ensure  their  own  future  in  North  America 
Some  Americans  were  talking  again  of  annexing  Canada.  A  pro 
posal  for  its  peaceful  annexation  was  even  briefly  made  in  Con 
gress.  Perhaps  more  significant,  however,  was  the  ending  of  tb 
Reciprocity  Treaty  by  the  United  States,  another  sign  of  America] 
unfriendliness,  and  a  hard  blow  at  all  the  northern  colonies. 

The  United  States  announced  early  in  1865  that  it  meant  t< 
end,  or  abrogate,  the  Reciprocity  Treaty.  This  was  in  accordanc 
with  the  Treaty  term  that  it  was  to  run  for  ten  years  and  then  b 
renewed  or  cancelled  by  either  party,  with  an  extra  year  of  grac 
if  it  should  be  cancelled.  The  Treaty  would  end,  then,  in  1866 
A  flourishing  system  of  commerce  would  be  cut  off.  Maritim 
fish,  Canadian  lumber,  and  many  other  colonial  goods  would  n 
longer  have  free  entry  into  the  United  States.  The  America- 
abrogation  of  reciprocity  was  undoubtedly  influenced  by  th 
thought  that  these  losses  would  lead  to  the  annexation  of  British 



America,  that  the  colonies  could  not  survive  without  the  American 
trade.  While  reciprocity  was  the  happiest  state  for  the  provinces, 
however,  they  were  not  so  utterly  dependent  on  it  as  Americans 
believed;  and  in  reaction  to  that  belief  British  America  only 
became  more  determined  to  shape  a  future  of  its  own. 

Thus  was  encouraged  that  general  feeling  of  British  American 
nationalism  which  had  almost  been  forced  upon  the  provinces  by 
the  strained  relations  with  the  United  States  during  the  Civil  War 
and  by  the  Fenian  outrages  afterwards.  As  a  result  the  movement 
for  union  was  strengthened,  particularly  in  the  Maritimes,  where 
it  had  been  weaker.  A  British  American  nation  should  be  the 
answer  to  talks  of  annexation.  A  union  would  remove  trade  bar- 
riers between  the  colonies,  encourage  an  interprovincial  commerce 
to  replace  what  had  been  lost.   It  would  even  build  the  railway 
over  which  the  new  trade  would  flow  between  the  St  Lawrence  and 
the  Atlantic  centres.  An  Intercolonial  Railway  and  general  federa- 
tion seemed  even  more  tied  together — and  even  more  necessary. 
Railway  problems,  as  well  as  matters  of  trade  and  defence,  were 
also  influencing  the  colonies.  The  world-wide  money  power  of  the 
Barings'  bank,  which  was  behind  the  Grand  Trunk  of  Canada, 
brought  pressure  to  bear  on  the  cause  of  union  in  an  effort  to  save 
British  investments  hi  the  railway.   In  1861  Edward  Watkin,  a 
Baring  financial  expert,  was  sent  to  Canada  to  investigate  the 
'organized  mess5  of  the  Grand  Trunk.  He  reported  that  the  rail- 
way lacked  traffic  and  could  only  be  made  to  pay  by  extending 
eastward  and  westward,  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Pacific,  until  it 
became  a  transcontinental  line  carrying  a  great  trade  from  ocean 
to  ocean.  Thanks  to  this  dazzling  suggestion,  British  banking 
interests  became  concerned  both  with  the  projected  Intercolonial 
Railway,  the  link  with  the  Atlantic,  and  with  opening  the  West,  so 
that  a  line  could  be  constructed  to  the  Pacific.  In  1863,  indeed, 
Watkin  and  a  financial  group  in  London  even  bought  a  controlling 
interest  in  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company,  intending  to  open  its  west- 
ern lands  to  Canada  in  order  that  a  Pacific  railway  might  be  begun. 



Old  enemies,  the  Clear  Grits  and  the  Grand  Trunk  banking 
interests,  were  coming  to  share  a  common  desire  to  unlock  the 

As  yet,  however,  Canada  was  unwilling  to  pay  the  price  asked 
for  the  West.  Indeed,  it  looked  as  if  a  British  American  union 
would  be  needed  to  take  over  all  the  lands  from  the  Atlantic  to  the 
Pacific.  Only  such  a  big  union  would  have  sufficient  credit  to 
undertake  to  acquire  the  West  and  construct  the  railways  to  the 
two  sea-coasts.  Accordingly,  British  bankers  and  the  Grand  Trunk 
joined  in  working  for  the  Confedration  movement,  and  they  had 
much  influence  in  official  circles.  They  looked  with  approval  on 
Maritime  desires  for  an  Intercolonial  Railway.  Renewed  con- 
ferences to  discuss  the  Intercolonial  were  held  between  Canadian 
and  Maritime  representatives  even  before  the  Canadian  Coalition 
of  1864  took  up  the  question  of  a  general  federation. 

Watkin,  moreover,  had  the  ear  of  the  Colonial  Office.  The 
British  government  was  becoming  increasingly  interested  in  the 
ideas  of  opening  the  West  and  building  new  railways  in  British 
America — the  ideas  that  led  logically  to  union.  Yet  more  impor- 
tant in  the  mind  of  the  British  government  were  considerations  of 
defence.  Opening  the  West  to  Canada  was  the  only  means  of 
saving  it,  in  the  long  run,  from  advancing  American  settlement; 
and  a  Pacific  railway  could  carry  British  colonists  there.  An  Inter- 
colonial Railway  would  end  the  dangerous  weakness  displayed 
during  the  Trent  Affair  of  1861,  the  fact  that  British  troops  could 
not  be  rushed  to  the  defence  of  Canada  when  the  St  Lawrence 
was  frozen  over  in  winter. 

Indeed,  the  stress  and  dangers  of  the  American  Civil  War 
aroused  the  British  government  on  the  question  of  defence  even 
more  than  it  did  the  colonists  of  British  America.  Britain  faced 
the  main  task  of  defending  the  empire  and  bore  most  of  its  costs. 
And  at  this  very  time  when  North  American  defence  seemed  to 
raise  so  grave  a  problem,  a  large  element  of  opinion  in  free-trade 
Britain  was  proclaiming  that  colonies  were  only  a  burden  and 




















expense.  Some  free  traders,  like  Cobden  and  Bright,  even  deman- 
ded that  the  British  American  provinces  be  let  go — be  'allowed'  to 
join  the  United  States. 

While  this  view  was  not  general  in  Britain  there  was  at  any  rate 
a  widespread  desire  that  the  costs  of  colonial  defence  be  reduced, 
and  that  the  North  American  colonies  assume  more  of  the  burden 
of  defending  themselves  against  the  United  States.  Here  again  a 
union  of  the  provinces  promised  to  allow  them  to  shoulder  that 
burden  more  cheaply  and  effectively.  In  time  Britain  began  to 
exert  strong  pressure  to  bring  about  Confederation,  and  chiefly 
because  of  the  defence  question.  In  this  case,  too,  the  emergency 
raised  by  the  Civil  War  had  made  its  influence  felt.  It  had  fused 
together  the  movements  within  and  the  forces  without,  into  a  great 
drive  that  achieved  Confederation. 

4     The  Achievement  of  Confederation 

In  June  of  1864  the  Great  Coalition  had  been  formed  in  Canada 
to  seek  general  federation.  In  September  of  that  year  the  Man- 
times  were  to  hold  a  conference  of  their  own  to  discuss  a  smaller 
project:  a  union  of  the  Atlantic  colonies.  This  plan  was  a  result 
of  the  growing  concern  of  the  Maritimes  for  their  future.  'Mari- 
time union'  would  strengthen  them  both  politically  and  economi- 
cally. It  was  fairly  popular  in  the  coastal  provinces  and  it  had  the 
blessing  of  the  British  government.  But  Maritime  union  was 
destined  never  to  be  achieved.  It  was  swallowed  up  in  the  plan 
for  a  greater  union.  Representatives  of  the  Canadian  Coalition, 
seizing  the  moment  when  Maritime  delegates  were  meeting  to 
consider  new  ties,  swept  down  on  their  conference  at  Charlotte- 
town,  Prince  Edward  Island,  and  captured  it  for  the  Canadian 
project  of  general  federation. 

The  Canadians  succeeded  at  Charlottetown  because  they  came  at 
a  critical  time.  The  Civil  War  was  crashing  to  a  bloody  victory  of 
North  over  South,  and  no  one  knew  what  might  happen  when  the 
Northern  armies  were  free  to  turn  to  other  quarrels.  The  outside 



pressures  of  defence,  of  trade  questions,  were  rising.  So  was 
British  American  nationalism.  The  Canadians  drew  splendid  pic- 
tures at  Charlottetown  of  a  strong  and  secure  new  northern  nation, 
linked  by  railways,  in  which  Canadian  wheat  and  industry  would 
complement  Maritime  mines,  fisheries,  and  ocean  commerce.  It 
was  a  noble  prospect,  and  in  it  the  Maritimes  saw  the  question  of 
their  future  answered.  They  agreed  to  send  delegates  to  a  further 
conference  at  Quebec  to  work  out  a  scheme  of  British  American 

In  the  next  few  months  the  movement  for  Confederation  was  at 
its  peak  all  over  British  North  America.  Party  differences  and 
party  feelings  were  forgotten  in  the  general  enthusiasm.  A  Con- 
servative government  in  Nova  Scotia,  for  instance,  under  Charles 
Tupper,  and  a  Liberal  government  in  New  Brunswick,  under 
Leonard  Tilley,  worked  with  the  Coalition  in  Canada.  The  great 
figure  of  Howe,  then  out  of  power  in  Nova  Scotia,  gave  at  least  a 
first  approval  to  the  idea  of  general  union.  And  the  Grand  Trunk 
railway,  labouring  hard  in  the  cause,  carried  Canadians  to  the 
Maritimes  and  Maritime  delegates  on  tours  across  the  province  of 
Canada.  Furthermore,  kte  in  1864  and  early  in  1865,  the  St 
Albans  raid  and  the  American  announcement  of  the  abrogation  of 
reciprocity  increased  the  sense  of  the  urgent  need  for  union. 

In  this  time  of  strong  feeling  for  Confederation  the  Quebec 
Conference  of  October,  1864,  was  able  to  draft  plans  for  an  endur- 
ing British  North  American  federation.  The  conference,  indeed, 
went  through  its  business  speedily  and  quietly,  although  in  time  to 
come  it  would  be  charged  with  showing  too  much  haste.  But  in 
those  burning,  eager  weeks  there  seemed  no  reason  for  delay. 
There  was,  besides,  general  agreement  that  the  new  federal  union 
had  to  be  a  strong  one.  It  was  to  provide  wide  powers  for  the 
central  government  in  order  to  avoid  those  weaknesses  of  the 
American  system,  where  the  states  had  the  wider  powers,  which 
had  apparently  produced  the  Civil  War. 

The  Conference  that  met  in  a  hall  overlooking  the  broad  sweep 



of  the  St  Lawrence,  as  it  curved  beneath  the  heights  of  Quebec, 
was  composed  of  some  of  the  ablest  men  in  British  North  America. 
Among  them  were  Macdonald,  Gait,  Tilley  and  Tupper,  Cartier, 
Brown  and  McGee.  They  were  there  from  French  and  English 
Canada,  from  the  three  coastal  provinces  and  Newfoundland  too; 
for  the  great  island  was  meant  to  become  a  partner  in  the  general 
union.  These  Fathers  of  Confederation,  in  their  dark  Victorian 
clothes  and  stiff  collars,  might  seem  a  less  colourful  assembly  than 
the  eighteenth-century  group  in  wigs  and  bright  waistcoats  that 
met  in  Philadelphia  in  1787  to  frame  the  American  constitution. 
But  the  Quebec  Fathers  also  held  in  their  hands  the  future  of  half 
a  continent.  And  it  was  fitting  that  they  should  meet  in  the  old 
capital  of  New  France,  beside  Cartier's  great  river  of  Canada.  For 
here  in  the  seventy-two  resolutions  that  the  conference  drew  up  a 
new  Canadian  nation  was  born. 

The  Quebec  Resolutions,  the  plan  of  union,  now  had  to  be 
accepted  by  the  provinces  themselves,  or  rather  by  their  parlia- 
ments, before  Confederation  could  go  forward.  In  the  spring  of 
1865  they  were  adopted  in  the  Canadian  provincial  assembly,  after 
some  of  the  finest  debates  in  the  political  history  of  Canada.  The 
French  and  English  Conservatives  and  the  Canada  West  Liberals 
under  Brown  gave  them  a  resounding  majority.  The  only  con- 
siderable group  opposing  were  the  Canada  East  Liberals  or 
Rouges  led  by  Dorion,  who  charged  that  Confederation  was  merely 
£a  Grand  Trunk  job',  designed  to  get  the  railway  out  of  bank- 
ruptcy. As  usual  with  half-truths,  this  was  a  dangerous  statement, 
because  there  was  an  element  of  fact  in  Dorion's  charge  which 
obscured  the  many  other  forces  behind  Confederation.  But  the 
weak  Rouge  opposition  was  not  sufficient  to  turn  the  tide. 

In  the  Maritimes,  however,  the  Resolutions  ran  into  difficulty. 
By  now  a  natural  reaction  against  the  excitement  of  Confederation 
was  under  way  in  these  provinces,  which  had  not  inspired  the 
project  of  federation,  as  Canada  had,  but  had  rather  been  led  into 
it.  Once  the  federal  terms  were  on  the  table  all  the  forces  of  Mari- 



time  criticism  could  be  turned  upon  them.  The  financial  terms  of 
the  Quebec  Resolution  were  attacked:  it  was  said  that  the  eastern 
provinces  had  not  been  provided  with  sufficient  income  under  the 
new  arrangements.  The  old  suspicion  of  the  unknown  Canadians 
was  revived:  the  Maritimes  would  be  swamped  in  the  federation, 
which  was  only  a  trick  to  get  Canada  out  of  her  own  problem  of 
deadlock.  These  were  negative  influences;  but  on  lie  positive 
side,  the  easterners'  love  for  their  own  little  self-governing  pro- 
vinces made  them  reluctant  to  see  their  identities  lost  in  a  large 
new  state. 

Accordingly,  Prince  Edward  Island  and  Newfoundland  rejected 
the  Quebec  resolutions  outright.  The  former,  a  farming  and  fish- 
ing island  in  the  Gulf  of  St  Lawrence,  shared  little  of  the  interest 
in  a  railway  to  Canada  that  Nova  Scotia  and  New  Brunswick  felt; 
and,  of  course,  the  Royal  Navy  had  sheltered  the  island  colony 
from  the  alarms  of  the  Civil  War.  Newfoundland  had  only  been 
an  observer  at  the  Quebec  Conference,  and  had  even  fewer  ties 
with  the  continent  of  America  than  Prince  Edward  Island.  Much 
of  its  trade  was  with  Europe.  In  addition,  having  so  recently 
achieved  self-government,  Newfoundland  did  not  want  to  lose 
some  of  it  in  a  union  with  far-off  Canada.  Government  from 
Ottawa  seemed  as  distant  and  uncontrollable  as  that  from  London. 
And  Newfoundland  in  the  1850*8  had  just  won  a  fight  to  keep 
London  from  ignoring  its  interests  by  granting  France  too  many 
fishing  rights  on  that  annoying  Trench  shore',  which  dated  from 
the  Treaty  of  1713.  Looking  outward  to  sea,  the  island  would  have 
nothing  to  do  with  the  'desert  sands'  of  Canada,  as  the  Newfound- 
land foes  of  Confederation  described  them. 

The  fate  of  Confederation  did  not  turn  on  these  two  relatively 
small  eastern  provinces  but  on  Nova  Scotia  and  New  Brunswick. 
Anti-federation  forces  were  strong  there  too.  In  Nova  Scotia, 
Howe  organized  a  powerful  opposition  to  the  Tupper  government 
that  supported  the  Resolutions.  Howe  had  turned  from  his  early 
approval  of  union;  in  part,  perhaps,  because  he  had  not  been  able 



to  attend  the  Quebec  Conference  and  appreciate  the  problems  of 
arranging  the  Resolutions ;  in  part  because  he  believed  his  beloved 
province  was  being  sacrificed  to  Canada.  At  any  rate,  Tupper  had 
to  hold  back  and  did  not  even  dare  to  bring  the  Resolutions  to  a 
vote  in  the  Nova  Scotia  assembly. 

BrunswickhadmeanwhilerejectedtheQuebecscheme.  Confedera- 
tion was  impossible  unless  the  middle  province.  New  Brunswick, 
agreed.  Its  whole  future  hung  here.  In  March,  1865,  when  Tilley 
decided  to  hold  an  election  over  the  Quebec  scheme,  he  and  his 
government  were  thoroughly  defeated.  All  the  anti-federation 
forces  in  New  Brunswick  had  come  together,  including  powerful 
business  interests  that  did  not  want  the  province's  money  spent  on 
its  share  of  a  railway  to  Canada,  but  rather  on  a  line  to  the  Ameri- 
can border  to  link  up  with  the  railways  of  Maine. 

Gradually  the  balance  began  to  turn,  as  the  anti-federation  re- 
action played  itself  out.  The  new  government  in  New  Brunswick 
proved  unable  to  settle  the  railway  issue  or  offer  any  alternative  to 
federation.  The  abrogation  of  reciprocity,  which  came  finally  in 
March,  1866,  made  Nova  Scotia  and  New  Brunswick  see  more 
value  in  a  union  with  Canada,  and  the  Intercolonial  supporters 
urgently  demanded  it.  The  Fenian  attempt  on  New  Brunswick 
further  influenced  public  opinion.  On  one  thing  the  Maritimes 
were  determined:  they  would  remain  British  in  America,  and  if 
this  required  union,  union  there  would  be. 

Yet  the  deciding  factor  was  the  influence  of  the  British  govern- 
ment. From  an  early  indifference  to  general  union  and  an  ap- 
proval of  the  limited  Maritime  union,  Britain  late  in  1864  had  come 
swiftly  to  favour  the  plan  of  Confederation.  Defence  was  the 
great  reason.  After  the  Trent  affair,  she  had  been  alarmed  by 
Canada's  apparent  failure  to  raise  sufficient  militia  to  share  effec- 
tively in  her  own  defence,  and  there  was  always  the  demand  at 
home  to  lower  the  cost  of  imperial  burdens.  If,  as  Canadian  dele- 
gates to  England  now  assured  her,  a  general  union  would  be  able 



to  deal  fully  with  defence,  as  well  as  take  over  the  exposed  West, 
then  Britain  would  support  such  a  union. 

Therefore  in  1865  the  British  government  closed  its  ears  to  anti- 
federation  protests  from  the  Maritimes  and  instructed  the  British 
governors  in  the  two  main  eastern  provinces  to  use  their  influence 
on  behalf  of  Confederation.  Their  influence  still  was  wide,  even 
under  responsible  government.  It  came  into  play  the  next  year, 
when  the  weak  anti-federation  government  began  to  collapse  in 
New  Brunswick.  At  a  new  election  in  that  province  the  governor's 
power  and  Grand  Trunk  money  was  thrown  in  on  the  side  of 
Confederation,  although  the  latter  perhaps  only  cancelled  out 
other  money  spent  by  those  desiring  the  railway  to  Maine. 

The  result  was  a  sweeping  victory  for  Tilley  and  Confederation; 
and,  in  Nova  Scotia,  Tupper  was  now  able  to  get  support  for 
sending  delegates  to  a  new  conference  on  British  American  union. 
It  met  in  London,  late  in  1866,  under  the  encouraging  eye  of  the 
British  government,  and  included  representatives  from  New  Bruns- 
wick and  Canada  as  well  as  from  Nova  Scotia.  At  last  Confedera- 
tion was  on  the  high  road  to  success. 

The  London,  or  Westminster  Conference  accepted  the  Quebec 
Resolutions  as  the  basic  plan  of  union  and  made  only  minor 
changes,  including  larger  money  grants  to  the  Maritimes  and  a 
definite  statement  that  the  Intercolonial  railway  would  be  built. 
There  would  be  four  provinces  in  the  new  federation:  Nova 
Scotia,  New  Brunswick,  and  Ontario  and  Quebec  (the  former 
Canada  West  and  Canada  East).  Meanwhile  talks  were  proceeding 
on  the  method  of  handing  over  the  vast  North  West  to  the  new 
federation.  One  notable  result  of  the  Conference  was  that  the 
name  Dominion  of  Canada  was  adopted  for  the  British  American 
union.  Tilley,  it  is  said,  found  the  key  word,  'Dominion'  in 
Psalm  Ixxii.  8 :  'He  shall  have  dominion  also  from  sea  to  sea,  and 
from  the  river  unto  the  ends  of  the  earth  . . .' 

Trom  sea  to  sea'  would  be  the  well-chosen  motto  of  the  new 
Dominion.  Soon  it  would  stretch  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Pacific, 



and  from  the  St  Lawrence  to  the  end  of  land  on  the  edge  of  the 
Arctic  Ocean.  But  first  the  imperial  act  creating  the  new  state  in 
accordance  with  the  resolutions  of  the  Westminster  Conference 
had  to  be  put  through  the  British  parliament.  Early  in  1867  this 
measure,  the  British  North  America  Act,  embodying  the  new 
federal  constitution  of  British  America  and  the  terms  of  its  union, 
was  passed  by  both  houses  of  parliament.  On  i  July  the  Act  came 
into  force.  The  Dominion  of  Canada  began  its  career.  By  1873  it 
had  brought  in  the  North  West,  British  Columbia,  and  Prince 
Edward  Island.  Newfoundland  remained  outside  until  1949.  But 
the  vital  step  had  been  taken  in  1867,  when  the  plan  of  Con- 
federation triumphed,  when  the  age  of  the  British  American  colo- 
nies passed  away,  and  that  of  the  Dominion  of  Canada  began. 




THE  NEW  DOMINION,  1867-78 

I    The  Structure  of  Government 

In  the  autumn  of  1867,  the  first  parliament  of  the  Dominion  of 
Canada  met  in  the  rising  town  of  Ottawa.  Ottawa,  chosen  a  few 
years  earlier  as  the  capital  of  the  province  of  Canada,  had  now 
been  selected  for  the  Dominion  capital.  There  beside  the  Ottawa 
river,  on  steep  cliffs  that  looked  northward  to  the  blue  line  of 
Laurentian  mountains,  fine  new  parliament  buildings  had  already 
been  erected.  They  were  too  fine,  George  Brown  had  declared,  for 
a  mere  province;  but  they  would  suit  the  dignity  of  a  young  nation. 
At  any  rate,  these  expansive  buildings  with  their  Victorian  Gothic 
spires  (one  of  which  reminded  Macdonald  of  a  cow-bell)  well 
served  the  needs  of  the  new  federal  government.  But  what  was 
the  form  of  government  housed  within  their  walls? 

As  set  forth  in  the  British  North  America  Act  of  1867,  it  was  a 
combination  of  federalism  and  the  British  parliamentary  system. 
There  was  a  Governor-General  at  the  head  of  the  government,  and 
two  Houses  of  Parliament,  the  Senate  and  the  House  of  Commons. 
Because,  of  course,  responsible  government  continued  in  effect,  a 
prime  minister  and  cabinet  actually  governed  Canada,  dependent 
on  the  support  of  the  House  of  Commons.  The  Governor- 
General  largely  played  the  formal  part  of  the  Crown  in  Britain; 
although  for  some  time  he  continued  to  exercise  more  influence  on 
the  counsels  of  government  than  did  Queen  Victoria  at  West- 
minster. The  Senate,  the  members  of  which  were  appointed  for 
life,  gave  equal  representation  to  the  principal  sections  of  the 
Dominion.  The  House  of  Commons  was  elected  on  a  basis  of 
representation  by  population  and  represented  the  people  of  Canada 
as  a  whole.  The  right  to  vote  in  electing  this  house  was  still 
restricted  to  men  with  property,  but  the  amount  required  was  low, 


THE   NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

the  number  of  voters  was  large,  and  by  the  end  of  the  century 
Canada  was  generally  speaking  a  broad-based  democracy,  with 
manhood  suffrage  the  rule  in  both  provincial  and  Dominion 

The  House  of  Commons  was  a  much  more  powerful  body  than 
the  Senate,  since  the  cabinet  rested  solely  on  the  Commons'  vote 
of  confidence,  and  not  on  that  of  the  upper  house.  On  this  vital 
point  Canada  was  following  the  established  practice  of  the  British 
parliamentary  system.  But  federalism  entered  the  Canadian  con- 
stitution in  the  principle  of  representing  sections  equally  in  the 
Senate,  and  in  the  more  important  fact  that  certain  powers  of 
government  did  not  belong  to  the  Dominion  parliament  but  lay 
with  the  provinces. 

The  provinces  had  much  the  same  structure  of  government  as 
the  Dominion.  There  were  provincial  parliaments  or  legislatures 
and  provincial  prime  ministers  or  premiers,  who  governed  accord- 
ing to  the  cabinet  system.  Lieutenant-governors,  appointed  by  the 
Dominion,  served  as  the  formal  heads  of  the  provincial  govern- 
ments. On  entering  Confederation  New  Brunswick  and  Nova 
Scotia  had  kept  their  old  provincial  legislatures  which  contained 
two  houses,  an  appointed  legislative  council  and  an  elected  legis- 
lative assembly.  Because,  however,  the  province  of  Canada  had 
now  been  divided  into  Quebec  and  Ontario  (the  former  Canada 
East  and  Canada  West)  two  new  provincial  constitutions  had  been 
required.  They  were  set  forth  in  the  British  North  America  Act. 
That  of  Quebec  had  two  houses,  as  in  the  Maritimes,  but  Ontario 
adopted  only  a  single  elected  chamber.  To-day  all  the  Canadian 
provinces  except  Quebec  have  adopted  this  simpler,  single- 
chamber  form  of  legislature. 

The  provincial  governments  had  been  given  the  necessary 
powers  to  look  after  affairs  that  were  largely  of  local  concern,  in- 
cluding control  over  property  and  civil  rights,  civil  law,  muni- 
cipal governments,  licences,  the  chartering  of  companies  within  a 
province,  and  the  right  to  raise  money  by  direct  taxation  in  order 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

to  meet  government  expenses.  Thesepowers — sixteen  inail — were 
listed  in  Section  92  of  the  British  North  America  Act.  Education, 
especially,  was  a  jealously  guarded  provincial  power;  and  no- 
where more  than  in  Quebec,  which  thus  sought  to  preserve  the 
special  ways  of  French  Canada  by  keeping  control  of  the  teaching 
of  its  young.  The  division  of  federal  and  provincial  powers,  more- 
over, generally  served  to  protect  the  French  minority  in  Quebec. 
And  as  an  extra  safeguard,  it  was  decreed  that  Quebec  should 
always  have  sixty-five  members  in  the  federal  House  of  Commons, 
in  order  to  give  the  French  Canadians  a  fairly  large  representation 
there.  Other  provinces  would  have  more  or  fewer  members,  in  so 
far  as  their  population  was  greater  or  smaller  than  Quebec's.  As 
population  patterns  altered,  membership  was  to  change  accord- 
ingly, around  this  central  pivot  of  Quebec. 

The  powers  of  the  Dominion  government  were  listed  in  Section 
91  of  the  British  North  America  Act  under  twenty-nine  headings. 
They  included  control  of  the  armed  forces,  postal  service,  coinage 
and  banking,  fisheries,  criminal  law,  the  regulation  of  trade  and 
commerce,  and  the  right  to  raise  money  by  any  mode  of  taxation, 
direct  or  indirect.  Obviously  the  Dominion  powers  were  wider 
and  more  numerous,  as  was  fitting  for  the  government  of  a  large 
state.  The  Dominion  was  given  a  general  authority  over  all  matters 
affecting  cpeace,  order  and  good  government',  except  when  they 
fell  within  the  fixed  provincial  fields.  It  was  made  clear  that  any 
remaining  (or  residuary)  powers  lay  with  the  central  government. 
The  provinces  had  no  more  than  the  set  of  powers  definitely  listed 
for  them. 

This  was  done  because  the  British  North  America  Act  was 
meant  to  create  a  strong  union :  to  shape  a  federal  government  with 
wide  authority  and  local  governments  with  only  limited  powers. 
The  explanation  of  this  fact  goes  back  to  the  Quebec  Conference, 
which  largely  drafted  the  plan  of  union  that  was  later  embodied 
in  the  British  North  America  Act.  At  Quebec  in  1864,  there  was 
every  desire  for  a  strong  union.  The  pressures  from  outside  were 


THE   NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

high,  driving  the  colonies  together.  There  was  a  sense  of  urgency 
created  by  the  growing  troubles  with  the  United  States.  At  the 
same  time  Macdonald,  who  was  becoming  the  leader  of  the  Con- 
federation movement,  had  still  his  old  preference  for  complete 
union.  If  that  were  not  possible,  then  the  strongest  possible 
federal  union  was  the  next  best  thing.  The  central  government, 
therefore,  was  not  only  provided  with  wide  powers;  it  was  also 
given  the  right  of  naming  the  provincial  governors,  who  were  to 
be  its  local  supervisors,  and  the  right  to  review  provincial  laws  and 
if  necessary  to  reject  or  'disallow'  them.  Clearly  the  central 
authority  was  the  superior.  Furthermore,  the  principle  that  resi- 
duary powers  belonged  to  the  Dominion  was  also  meant  to  streng- 
then the  union.  It  was  intended  to  avoid  the  apparent  flaw  in  the 
federal  system  of  the  United  States,  then  in  the  throes  of  Civil  War. 
In  that  country  the  reserve  of  power  had  remained  with  the  states, 
and  half  the  union  had  gone  to  war  to  assert  the  supremacy  of 
'states'  rights'. 

If  the  strength  of  the  federation  was  one  distinctive  feature  of 
the  new  system  of  Canadian  government,  another  was  the  imprint 
of  British  influences  upon  it.  It  would  be  wrong  to  think  that 
because  this  was  a  federal  system  that  it  was  generally  a  copy  of 
the  American  constitution.  A  'British  American3  constitution, 
Canadians  proudly  called  it;  their  own  particular  blend  of  British 
and  American  influences,  as  was  their  country  itself.  Though  the 
designers  at  Quebec  turned  naturally  to  the  United  States  to  study 
federalism  in  North  America,  they  did  so  largely  to  see  what  to 
modify  or  avoid.  The  Canadian  Senate,  for  example,  had  only  the 
same  name  as  the  powerful  American  chamber.  As  an  upper  house 
on  the  British  parliamentary  model  it  was  not  meant  to  be  more 
than  a  revising  body,  or  a  brake  on  the  House  of  Commons .  There- 
fore it  was  deliberately  made  an  appointed  house,  since  an  elected 
Senate  might  prove  too  popular  and  too  powerful,  and  be  able  to 
block  the  will  of  the  House  of  Commons.  The  Canadian  Senate 
was  really  the  old  British  colonial  legislative  council  under  a  new 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

name.  Besides,  it  did  not  represent  separate  provinces  or  states,  as 
in  the  American  system,  but  sections;  Ontario  and  Quebec  each 
had  twenty-four  members,  and  Nova  Scotia  and  New  Brunswick 
twenty-four  together.  This  'section'  principle  was  continued  as 
new  provinces  were  added  to  the  Dominion. 

The  Canadian  structure  of  government,  moreover,  wedded  the 
British  cabinet  and  the  whole  unwritten  British  constitution  to  a 
written  plan  of  federalism.  Although  the  written  part  of  the  con- 
stitution, the  British  North  America  Act,  would  hereafter  be  sub- 
ject to  the  decisions  of  courts  of  law,  which  sometimes  hampered  it 
in  adjusting  easily  to  new  needs,  the  unwritten  part  could  go  on 
developing  in  parliament,  as  in  Britain,  in  order  to  meet  the 
changing  requirements  of  government.  Finally,  the  whole  manner 
in  which  this  new  structure  of  government  was  established  in 
Canada  showed  its  British  background.  It  was  not  done  by  a  com- 
pact between  independent  states,  as  in  the  American  case.  Al- 
though the  colonies  did  plan  the  federal  union,  and  agreed  to 
adopt  it,  in  legal  fact  the  union  was  enacted  by  the  authority  of  the 
imperial  parliament.  A  British  act  created  the  Dominion  of 
Canada.  The  right  of  framing  colonial  constitutions  still  lay  with 
the  British  parliament.  This  power  to  alter  the  Canadian  constitu- 
tion long  remained  at  Westminster,  though  it  was  used  only  at 
Canada's  request.  Nor  did  the  Dominion  make  any  attempt  to 
change  this  situation  for  many  years  to  come. 

The  British  North  America  Act  also  dealt  with  other  matters 
than  forms  of  government,  such  as  providing  for  the  admission  of 
new  provinces  to  the  east  or  west,  agreeing  to  begin  the  Inter- 
colonial within  six  months  after  union,  and,  most  important,  fixing 
the  financial  terms  on  which  the  Confederation  should  operate. 
The  question  of  financial  arrangements  had  been  one  of  the  hard- 
est to  deal  with  at  the  Quebec  Conference.  Dissatisfaction  with 
the  terms  adopted  had  been  a  main  factor  in  the  anti-federation 
movements  in  the  Maritimes  afterwards.  The  problem  was  still  in 
existence  when  the  Dominion  began  its  career.  The  great  diffi- 


THE   NEW  DOMINION,,    1867-78 

cully  was  that,  in  giving  up  to  the  new  central  government  the 
right  to  collect  indirect  taxes,  the  right  to  fix  a  tariff  and  levy 
customs  duties,  the  provinces  were  losing  their  main  source  of 
income.  This  hit  the  Maritimes  particularly  hard.  Direct  taxation 
had  never  been  as  fully  developed  in  the  Atlantic  provinces  as  in 

In  consequence  it  was  agreed  at  the  Quebec  Conference  that  all 
the  provinces  should  receive  certain  yearly  payments  or  subsidies 
from  the  Dominion,  in  accordance  with  the  size  of  their  popula- 
tion, because  of  the  taxing  powers  which  they  had  given  up.  These 
subsidies  were  later  raised  for  the  Maritimes,  when  they  com- 
plained that  their  financial  problems  had  not  been  met,  and  pressed 
for  'better  terms'.  All  in  all,  the  principle  of  subsidies  was  really 
a  basic  part  of  the  new  structure  of  government:  a  main  factor  in 
making  it  possible,  and  an  important  item  as  well  in  the  dispute 
which  in  time  would  arise  over  the  relations  between  the  provinces 
and  the  government  of  the  Dominion. 

2    Rounding  Out  the  Dominion 

The  first  great  task  of  the  young  Dominion  was  to  extend  its 
boundaries  from  sea  to  sea  to  bring  in  all  the  broad  northern  lands 
of  the  continent.  This  was  done  within  six  years  of  the  founding 
of  the  new  Canadian  union  and  under  the  guiding  genius  of  its 
first  prime  minister,  Macdonald — now  Sir  John  A.  Macdonald. 
By  1873,  only  Newfoundland  among  the  former  British  American 
colonies  had  failed  to  join  Confederation.  Supporters  of  union 
had  carried  on  an  active  campaign  in  the  island  between  1865  and 
1869.  Though  the  colony  had  not  shared  in  the  London  Confer- 
ence of  1866-7  that  had  drawn  up  the  final  plans  for  the  British 
North  America  Act,  talks  had  been  reopened  in  1868  between 
Newfoundland  and  Canada.  A  delegation  had  visited  Ottawa  and 
returned  to  the  island  with  the  draft  of  an  agreement  for  union. 
The  next  year,  however,  the  Newfoundland  government  which 
backed  the  agreement  was  thoroughly  defeated  at  an  election.  The 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

people  of  the  colony  thought  the  financial  arrangements  were  in- 
sufficient, and  the  general  ignorance,  and  even  suspicion,  of 
Canada  were  successfully  played  upon  by  the  enemies  of  federa- 
tion. As  a  result,  after  1869  Newfoundland  dropped  thoughts  of 
union  for  some  time  to  come,  arid  determined  to  go  forward  on  its 

There  were  other  questions  as  well  as  that  of  Newfoundland 
facing  the  Dominion  in  the  east.  For  example,  the  promised  Inter- 
colonial railway  had  to  be  constructed.  It  was  begun  at  once  as  a 
government  project  and  finished  in  1876.  The  line  ran  through 
New  Brunswick  as  far  from  the  American  border  as  possible,  for 
reasons  of  defence,  and  so  was  too  remote  from  the  settled  areas  to 
gain  much  traffic.  Yet  though  it  did  not  pay,  this  first  railway  link 
between  the  Maritimes  and  the  interior  was  a  necessary  step  in 
completing  the  Dominion.  Railway  lines  at  last  had  pierced  the 
Appalachian  barrier,  through  the  deep,  wooded  trough  of  the 
Matapedia  valley,  to  join  the  St  Lawrence  region  with  that  of  the 
Gulf  and  the  Atlantic. 

Another  and  more  serious  eastern  problem  was  the  renewed  anti- 
federation  movement  in  Nova  Scotia.  In  1867,  at  the  first  Domin- 
ion elections,  anti-unionists  led  by  Joseph  Howe  had  swept  that 
province.  Howe  still  had  his  fears  for  his  native  province,  and 
managed  to  swing  the  closely  balanced  forces  in  Nova  Scotia  in 
his  favour.  It  was  here  that  Macdonald  found  a  chance  to  display 
his  talent  for  union-making.  When  Nova  Scotia's  anti-unionists 
failed  to  influence  the  British  government  and  parliament,  Sir 
John  undermined  their  stand  on  separation  by  arranging  better 
financial  terms  for  their  province  and  by  persuading  their  leader, 
Howe,  to  accept  a  seat  in  his  coalition  government.  Nova  Scotia 
was  fairly  well  settled  in  Confederation  thereafter,  though  for 
Howe  this  was  the  last,  and  perhaps  the  least,  period  of  his  great 
career.  But  it  would  not  be  the  last  time  that  Macdonald's  politi- 
cal skill  and  the  Dominion  treasury  would  work  together  to 
cement  the  new  Canadian  union. 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

The  financial  power  of  the  Dominion  also  served  largely  to 
bring  in  another  province  in  the  east.  Prince  Edward  Island  was 
running  into  money  problems,  and  looked  on  union  with  Canada 
with  new  favour.  The  island  had  built  a  railway  for  itself,  but  had 
gone  heavily  into  debt.  Funds  were  needed  as  well  to  end  that  age- 
old  burden  of  the  little  province,  the  absentee  ownership  of  land. 
Entrance  into  the  Dominion  would  provide  more  money  for  the 
railway  and  help  in  buying  out  the  absentee  land-owners.  By 
now  the  island  province  also  wanted  a  good  connection  with  the 
growing  railway  system  on  the  Canadian  mainland.  The  guarantee 
that  a  regular  ferry  service  would  be  maintained  formed  one  of  its 
terms  for  union.  In  1873,  therefore,  Prince  Edward  Island  became 
the  third  Maritime  province  to  join  the  Dominion  of  Canada. 

But  meanwhile  the  main  expansion  of  the  Dominion  was  pro- 
ceeding westward.  The  transfer  of  the  North  West  to  Canada  had 
been  one  of  the  prime  aims  of  the  Confederation  movement.  The 
new  Dominion  at  once  took  up  this  question,  which  chiefly  in- 
volved settling  the  price  for  which  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company 
would  agree  to  give  up  its  charter  to  Rupert's  Land.  In  1868  the 
British  parliament  passed  the  Rupert's  Land  Act,  to  ensure  the 
transfer  of  the  Hudson's  Bay  domain  to  Canada  when  terms  had 
been  reached,  and  in  1869  the  Company  accepted  a  Canadian 
offer  of  £300,000  and  large  western  land  grants.  Rupert's  Land 
and  the  North  West  Territory  beyond,  where  the  Company  had 
held  the  trade  monopoly,  could  now  be  transferred  to  Canada. 
The  young  Dominion  would  reach  to  the  Rockies,  and  north  to 
the  Arctic  Ocean.  This  tremendous  addition  it  decided  to  rule  as 
the  North  West  Territories,  under  a  lieutenant-governor  and 
council  appointed  in  Ottawa. 

Yet  the  feelings  of  the  little  settlement  at  the  Red  river,  in  the 
heart  of  this  great  new  empire,  had  not  been  consulted  during  the 
transfer.  Under  the  absolute  authority  of  the  Hudson's  Bay 
Company,  the  settlers  had  little  voice  in  their  own  government. 
They  began  to  wonder  what  their  future  might  be.  While,  on  the 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

whole,  they  had  come  to  accept  the  idea  of  union  with  Canada 
there  were  some  who  hoped  to  establish  a  separate  colony  under 
British  rule.  The  rather  noisy,  overbearing  handful  of  Canadians 
in  their  midst,  who  looked  down  on  the  other  inhabitants,  the  un- 
expected appearance  of  Canadian  land  surveyors,  who  plotted  out 
square  land  divisions  as  if  the  long,  thin  river-bank  farms  of  the 
Red  river  did  not  exist,  added  to  the  uneasiness  of  the  settlers. 

The  largest  group  at  Red  river  were  the  English-  and  French- 
speaking  half-breeds,  who  feared  for  their  free  life  of  the  plains  if 
Canadian  settlement  should  begin  in  earnest.  The  more  numerous 
French-speaking  half-breeds,  the  Metis,  were  also  worried  over 
the  fate  of  their  Catholic  religion  and  French  culture  when 
English  Canadians  poured  in.  Their  hope  of  raising  a  new  French 
Canada  in  the  West,  a  hope  shared  by  the  Catholic  Church  and 
Quebec,  seemed  dangerously  threatened.  And  now  the  danger 
was  at  hand.  In  the  autumn  of  1869  the  new  Canadian  lieutenant- 
governor,  William  McDougall,  who  had  worked  with  George 
Brown  in  seeking  the  West  for  Canada,  reached  the  Red  river  to 
take  over  the  colony. 

At  this  point  the  Metis  found  a  leader,  the  clever  but  unbalanced 
Louis  Riel,  a  French-speaking  inhabitant  of  Red  river  with  a  dash 
of  Indian  blood.  Seizing  on  the  fact  that  McDougall  had  arrived 
ahead  of  the  date  when  his  authority  was  to  begin,  while  that  of  the 
Hudson's  Bay  Company  had  lapsed,  Riel  set  up  a  'provisional 
government*  of  his  own.  He  took  over  Fort  Garry,  the  chief 
Hudson's  Bay  post  at  the  Red  river,  and  stopped  McDougall  at 
the  border  of  the  settlement.  Yet  this  was  not  quite  a  rebellion. 
There  was  no  thought  of  rebelling  against  Britain;  Canada  had 
not  yet  actually  taken  over  the  West,  and  would  not  do  so  until 
she  could  obtain  peaceful  possession.  Riel's  government,  more- 
over, established  orderly  rule  and  set  up  a  representative  assem- 
bly; it  was  accepted  by  most  of  the  Red  river  colonists,  the  French 
and  English  half-breeds,  the  former  Hudson's  Bay  men,  and  the 
descendants  of  Selkirk's  settlers.  Only  the  small  Canadian  group 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

opposed  it.  And  this  led  to  the  one  act  of  violence  that  in  the 
long  run  proved  fatal:  the  execution  of  Thomas  Scott,  a  young 
English-speaking  Canadian  who  resisted  Kiel's  authority.  He 
brought  down  on  himself  the  fury  of  the  M6tis  leader,  whose 
vanity  could  hardly  bear  opposition. 

Kiel's  purpose  in  setting  up  his  government  was  to  win  terms 
from  Canada,  so  that  the  Red  river  could  enter  the  Dominion  as  a 
separate  province  with  guarantees  for  the  Metis  land  and  protec- 
tion for  French  rights,  as  in  Quebec.  Accordingly  Red  river  dele- 
gates travelled  to  Ottawa,  while  Macdonald  sent  a  new  repre- 
sentative to  the  West  to  replace  the  unsuccessful  McDougall  in 
treating  with  Kiel.  Terms  were  reached  that  gave  the  Red  river 
almost  everything  it  sought,  and  it  was  clear  that  the  Riel  govern- 
ment would  peaceably  disband.  But  in  order,  as  well,  to  give  the 
new  Canadian  authority  proper  force  in  the  West  it  was  agreed 
that  a  military  expedition  should  go  to  the  Red  river.  A  few  hun- 
dred British  regulars  and  Canadian  militia  under  Colonel  Garnet 
Wolseley  marched  west  through  the  wilderness  beyond  the  head 
of  the  Great  Lakes  in  the  summer  of  1870.  And  that  year  the  Red 
river  settlement  was  set  up  apart  from  the  rest  of  the  North  West 
Territories  as  the  new  province  of  Manitoba.  By  the  Riel  rising, 
therefore,  Manitoba  had  been  forced  into  being  as  a  full  partner  in 
the  Dominion,  although  as  yet  its  population  was  quite  small.  In 
the  new  province  both  the  French  and  English  languages  were  to 
be  in  official  use,  and  Catholics  and  Protestants  were  to  have  their 
own  school  systems.  Apparently  the  French  M6tis  had  succeeded 
in  creating  a  little  Quebec  in  the  west. 

But  meanwhile  feeling  was  rising  in  English-speaking  Canada, 
especially  in  Ontario,  over  the  execution  of  Scott.  Ontario  de- 
nounced Riel  as  a  traitor  and  murderer  and  regarded  the  Wolseley 
expedition  as  an  army  sent  to  put  down  rebellion.  Quebec  natur- 
ally regarded  Riel  as  a  hero,  and  warmly  defended  him.  Perhaps 
he  was  both  hero  and  murderer,  for  despite  the  orderliness  of  his 
provisional  government  it  did  not  have  the  power  to  put  a  man  to 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

death.  Here  Kiel's  lack  of  balance  had  carried  him  into  needless 
violence.  Accordingly,  when  the  Wolseley  expedition  approached., 
fearing  punishment,  Kiel  fled  the  Red  river.  His  government  col- 
lapsed. Canada  had  gained  the  West  and  made  a  province;  but 
the  Kiel  rising,  with  the  bad  feelings  it  caused  between  French  and 
English  in  Quebec  and  Ontario,  was  to  cast  its  shadow  over  the 
Dominion  in  years  to  come. 

The  next  step  for  Canada  was  expansion  to  the  Pacific  coast. 
There  on  the  western  slopes  of  the  continent  Vancouver  Island 
had  been  joined  to  the  province  of  British  Columbia  in  1866.  But 
the  province  was  still  weak  and  backward,  with  only  about  ten 
thousand  inhabitants,  and  representative,  but  not  responsible, 
government.  The  gold  rush  was  over  by  now;  British  Columbia 
not  only  did  not  grow  but  floundered  in  financial  difficulties.  The 
only  way  out  seemed  to  be  union  with  Canada  or  with  the  United 
States.  When,  however,  a  document  calling  for  annexation  to  the 
republic  was  put  forward  in  1869  only  one  hundred  and  four  per- 
sons signed  it.  The  majority  wanted  'British'  Columbia,  indeed. 

On  the  other  hand  there  was  a  growing  desire  for  union  with 
Canada.  This  became  particularly  strong  when  the  Dominion  took 
over  the  North- West  and  so  moved  next  door  to  the  Pacific  prov- 
ince. The  campaign  for  union  with  Canada  gained  force,  pressed 
on  by  a  colonist  who  had  taken  the  splendid  name  of  Amor  de 
Cosmos  (his  real  name  was  Smith).  Led  by  de  Cosmos  and  the 
imperial  authorities,  who  still  wielded  much  power  in  British 
Columbia,  the  unionist  cause  readily  won  its  victory.  In  1870 
delegates  from  the  province  reached  terms  of  union  in  Ottawa, 
including  the  promise  that  the  Dominion  would  begin  a  railway 
to  the  Pacific  in  two  years  and  finish  it  in  ten.  And  in  1871 
British  Columbia  joined  Confederation,  as  another  full  partner, 
with  its  own  responsible  provincial  government. 

The  Dominion  stretched  from  sea  to  sea — A  man  usque  ad 
mare,  as  its  motto  declares.  It  had  taken  only  four  years  to  reach 
across  the  continent,  while  the  United  States  had  taken  more  than 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

half  a  century.  Yet  this  very  difference  in  speed  was  a  result  of 
the  presence  of  the  United  States.  The  constant  threat  of  Ameri- 
can expansion,  that  had  made  the  question  of  union  so  pressing, 
had  created  a  constant  sense  of  urgency.  Canada  had  grown  so 
fast  because  the  ceaseless  advance  of  American  settlement  in  the 
west  and  the  aggressive  mood  of  the  United  States  after  the  Civil 
War  had  driven  her  on.  These  dangers  had  also  made  both  the 
British  colonists  outside  the  borders  of  the  Dominion  and  the 
government  in  Britain  eager  to  support  the  cause  of  union.  There 
were  Fenian  stirrings  at  the  Red  river,  though  the  Metis  rallied 
against  them;  the  United  States  had  bought  Alaska  from  Russia 
in  1867  and  was  talking  of  taking  over  the  entire  Pacific  coast. 
The  Dominion  had  need  to  expand  quickly.  Of  course,  the  fact 
that  it  brought  in  territories  that  were  already  British  enabled 
Canada  to  grow  as  rapidly  as  it  did. 

At  the  same  time  this  rapid  expansion  stretched  Canada  thin. 
Because  of  the  need  for  haste,  the  Dominion  did  not  grow  as  the 
United  States  had  done,  hand  in  hand  with  settlement  and  com- 
merce, but  far  ahead  of  them.  In  rounding  out  the  Dominion  not 
much  more  had  been  accomplished  than  the  staking  of  a  claim 
across  the  continent.  Now  it  had  to  be  filled  in,  if  it  were  to  endure. 
Railways  and  settlements  had  to  move  west.  The  union  had  to  be 
made  real  in  men's  interests,  hearts,  and  minds.  These  were  the 
next  problems  for  Canada. 

3    Macdonald  Conservatism  and  a  Liberal  Interlude 

During  the  dramatic  first  six  years  of  the  Dominion,  when 
Canada  gained  far  more  land  than  she  had  held  in  1867,  Sir  John 
A.  Macdonald  had  governed  the  country.  There  followed  five 
short  years  of  Liberal  rule,  and  then  Macdonald  returned  to  power, 
to  hold  it  from  1878  until  his  death  in  1891.  Nor  did  the  Liberal- 
Conservative  party  which  he  had  moulded  finally  fall  from  office 
until  1896.  Macdonald  Conservatism,  therefore,  is  vitally  con- 
nected with  the  first  thirty  years  of  the  Dominion's  history.  And 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

it  was  during  Macdonald's  first  Dominion  government  that  the 
outlines  and  policies  of  Conservatism  took  shape. 

Officially,  his  first  cabinet  was  a  coalition.  Before  the  elections 
were  held  in  the  summer  of  1867  to  fill  the  new  federal  parliament, 
Macdonald  and  his  allies  had  raised  a  cry  for  a  no-party  govern- 
ment to  launch  the  Dominion  in  a  spirit  of  unity  and  patriotism. 
It  was  a  highly  successful  appeal.  George  Brown,  once  more 
Macdonald's  chief  foe  now  that  Confederation  had  been  carried, 
found  himself  and  the  Clear  Grit  Liberals  put  in  a  false  position 
as  unpatriotic  'anti-unionists' — which  they  were  not — because 
they  wanted  to  start  the  new  governing  system  on  the  basis  of 
party  politics.  And  so,  despite  Brown's  strong  hold  on  the  largest 
province,  Ontario,  Macdonald  swept  into  power.  Thanks  largely 
to  his  no-party  cry,  he  gained  many  Liberal  votes  in  all  the  prov- 
vinces;  and  these  together  with  his  Conservative  support  gave  him 
a  firm  majority.  The  Ontario  Grits  retreated  angrily  to  opposition. 
George  Brown  retired  into  private  life,  although  as  owner  of  the 
chief  Liberal  journal,  the  Toronto  Globe,  he  continued  to  exercise 
much  influence  over  his  party  until  his  death  in  1880. 

In  office  meanwhile,  Macdonald  brought  into  his  cabinet  some 
lesser  Liberals  from  Ontario,  as  well  as  Tilley  from  New  Bruns- 
wick, and  soon  Howe  from  Nova  Scotia,  in  order  to  prove  that 
this  was  indeed  a  coalition  government.  Yet  the  leading  men  in 
the  cabinet,  including  Carrier  and  Tupper  of  Nova  Scotia,  were 
Conservatives.  Under  Macdonald's  powerful  leadership,  more- 
over, the  whole  cabinet  began  to  take  on  a  one-party  colour.  It 
became  a  Conservative  government,  devoted  to  building  up  the 
Dominion  and  to  preserving  the  federal  union.  To  these  ends  it 
was  ready  to  spend  money  freely,  to  make  grand  and  costly  plans 
for  a  big  Canada,  and  to  tie  itself  closely  with  wealthy  business 
and  railway  interests.  Such  an  attitude,  of  course,  came  down 
from  the  Liberal-Conservative  party  of  the  old  province  of  Can- 
ada. And  the  vital  partnership  between  the  French  Canadians 
and  leading  English-Canadian  business  men  was  also  carried  over 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

into  the  Dominion  Conservative  party.  It  stood  for  a  union  of  the 
two  peoples  and  all  the  provinces.  To  maintain  that  uncertain 
union  Macdonald  used  all  his  warm  personal  charm  and  sharp 
political  craft — which  once  brought  a  prominent  Liberal  to  ex- 
claim., 'Ah,  John  A.,  John  A.,  how  I  love  you.  How  I  wish  I 
could  trust  you!' 

On  the  other  side  Liberalism  was  also  taking  shape  in  the 
Dominion,  building  largely  on  the  Clear  Grits  of  the  former 
Canada  West.  The  Liberal  party  was  at  first  much  looser  than  the 
Conservative  because  it  represented  a  jumble  of  discontented  pro- 
vincial groups  rather  than  one  general  national  alliance.  The 
Liberals  remained  strong  in  the  province  of  Ontario,  however. 
Here  Oliver  Mowat,  a  former  follower  of  George  Brown  and  a 
Liberal  Father  of  Confederation,  ruled  the  provincial  government 
for  at  least  as  long  as  Macdonald  controlled  the  federal  govern- 
ment at  Ottawa.  In  Dominion  circles,  the  Liberals  gradually  took 
on  definite  form  as  they  steadily  opposed  the  sweeping  and  expen- 
sive schemes  of  Conservative  ministers.  As  the  earlier  Clear  Grits 
had  done,  they  attacked  the  dangerous  influence  of  railways  and 
business  on  the  government,  and  stood  by  the  farming  interest. 
They  called  for  a  slower,  more  cautious  development  of  Canada, 
in  keeping,  they  said,  with  the  true  limits  of  the  country's  wealth. 
In  particular,  the  Liberals  came  to  stand  for  provincial  rights, 
whereas  Macdonald  repeatedly  stressed  the  superior  power  of  the 
central  government.  Accordingly  Liberalism  gathered  support  in 
most  of  the  provinces  from  those  who  felt  that  the  Dominion  was 
riding  rough-shod  over  the  just  rights  of  the  different  sections  that 
had  entered  Confederation. 

The  fall  of  the  Macdonald  government  came  in  1873  with  a  full- 
blown scandal  that  seemed  to  prove  the  Liberal  arguments  con- 
cerning the  waste  and  corruption  of  Conservative  rule.  The  scan- 
dal, moreover,  was  linked  with  the  government's  policy  of  rapid 
expansion  and  expensive  railway  building,  and  the  promise  to 
British  Columbia  to  begin  a  Pacific  railway  within  two  years  after 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

that  province's  entry  into  Confederation.  The  Dominion  govern- 
ment had  offered  a  charter  on  very  attractive  terms  to  any  com- 
pany that  would  build  the  Canadian  Pacific  Railway.  Two  power- 
ful financial  groups,  one  centred  in  Toronto,  one  in  Montreal, 
had  been  struggling  to  gain  the  Western  railway  contract.  When 
in  1873  some  of  the  Montreal  interests  were  granted  the  charter^ 
their  enemies  alleged  that  the  award  was  the  result  of  a  corrupt 
bargain,  whereby  the  favoured  group  had  poured  money  into  the 
Conservative  party's  election  funds.  Copies  of  letters  and  telegrams 
were  produced  as  proof  of  the  'Pacific  scandal*,  and  the  Liberals 
in  parliament  demanded  that  the  government  resign. 

Now  it  is  clear  that  Macdonald  had  not  personally  been  bribed, 
and  the  system  of 'friends'  contributing  to  party  funds  in  the  hope 
of  favours  was  an  unfortunate  but  well-established  practice  in 
Canada  and  elsewhere.  Besides,  the  company  that  had  been  given 
the  charter  was  not  wholly  the  same  as  the  original  group  that  had 
contributed  funds.  Nevertheless  public  opinion  was  thoroughly 
aroused,  and  the  Liberal  party  swept  a  new  election  to  form  a 
government  under  Alexander  Mackenzie.  It  seemed  that  the  Paci- 
fic scandal  had  revealed  the  worst  features  of  Conservatism,  that 
arose  from  dealing  too  freely  with  great  sums  of  money  and  having 
too  close  a  connection  with  powerful  business  groups. 

The  new  Mackenzie  ministry  looked  very  different.  Macken- 
zie had  been  Brown's  chief  lieutenant  and  succeeded  him  as 
Dominion  Liberal  leader.  Sharing  Brown's  dislike  of  extravagant 
government,  Mackenzie  was  honest  and  hard-working;  but  he 
lacked  the  vision  of  either  Brown  or  Macdonald.  And  while  he 
determined  to  give  Canada  what  it  seemed  to  need — cheap,  effi- 
cient government — his  ministry  turned  away  from  the  Macdonald 
programme  of  nation-building.  With  regard  to  the  Pacific  railway, 
Mackenzie  found  it  impossible  to  attract  capitalists  and  proceeded 
to  build  the  line  as  a  government  project  in  sections  between  exist- 
ing waterways.  British  Columbia  became  impatient  with  the  slow 
progress  of  the  railway,  and  angry  arguments  developed.  It  took 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

the  cool  diplomacy  of  Lord  Dufferin,  the  Governor-General,  to 
smooth  down  the  disputes,  after  a  special  trip  to  British  Columbia. 

Nevertheless  under  Mackenzie  some  hundreds  of  miles  of  track 
were  laid  in  British  Columbia  and  between  the  Great  Lakes  and 
Manitoba.  A  survey  was  also  carried  out  for  the  whole  route, 
which  selected  passes  through  the  lofty  western  ranges.  During 
this  time,  moreover,  new  settlements  were  begun  in  Manitoba. 
The  western  wheat  lands  were  opening. 

Aside  from  this  limited  expansion  westward,  the  chief  achieve- 
ment of  the  Mackenzie  era  lay  in  carrying  Canada  farther  along 
the  road  from  colony  to  nation.  The  Liberals  were  at  their  stron- 
gest in  this  kind  of  nation-building,  in  widening  Canada's  powers 
of  self-government.  Through  Edward  Blake,  asMinister  of  Justice 
in  the  Mackenzie  cabinet,  a  Canadian  Supreme  Court  was  set  up, 
which  reduced  appeals  from  Canadian  courts  of  law  to  the  imperial 
Privy  Council  in  London.  Blake  also  managed  to  have  the  instruc- 
tions of  the  Governor-General  changed,  in  order  to  limit  the 
power  that  he  still  had  to  act  on  his  own,  without  the  advice  of  the 
Dominion  cabinet.  From  this  time  forward  the  Governor- 
Generals  of  Canada  on  the  whole  had  much  prestige  but  little 
power.  All  in  all,  however,  any  advances  towards  nationhood 
made  during  the  Mackenzie  period  were  overshadowed  by  the 
government5 s  failure  to  make  practical  gains  in  unifying  and 
strengthening  Canada.  By  1878,  when  the  Liberals  fell,  their 
government  faced  a  mass  of  discontents  with  little  policy  for  the 

The  root  of  the  problem  was  the  great  world  trade  depression 
that  began  in  1873  and  lasted,  with  only  a  few  short  periods  of 
recovery,  until  1896.  The  Mackenzie  government  could  hardly  be 
blamed  for  the  effects  of  depression  on  Canada— but,  human 
nature  being  what  it  is,  it  was  blamed.  And  undoubtedly,  the 
Liberals*  dislike  of  strong  government  action  and  their  belief  in 
keeping  down  expenses  prevented  them  from  taking  any  bold 
steps  to  meet  the  sharp  decline  in  Canada's  trade  and  the  growing 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

discontent  in  the  country.  Their  one  hope  had  been  a  renewal  of 
the  Reciprocity  Treaty  with  the  United  States.  Believing  in  free 
trade,  the  Liberals  looked  back,  as  to  a  golden  age,  to  the  time  when 
the  Treaty  had  removed  trade  barriers  between  Canada  and  the 
United  States  and  brought  a  high  level  of  commercial  prosperity. 
George  Brown  had  been  sent  to  Washington  in  1874  to  obtain  a 
new  reciprocity  agreement.  He  had  failed,  since  the  United  States 
was  following  the  opposite  policy  to  free  trade,  of  raising  tariffs 
ever  higher  and  higher. 

After  this  failure,  the  Mackenzie  Liberals  had  really  no  pro- 
gramme, as  financial  difficulties  mounted,  except  to  try  to  cut 
expenses.  But  they  themselves  were  forced  to  increase  the  Cana- 
dian tariff  slightly,  in  order  to  bring  in  sufficient  revenue  as  trade 
fell  off.  By  now  there  was  a  powerful  agitation  in  the  Dominion, 
especially  among  manufacturers,  for  a  higher  Canadian  tariff. 
Faced  with  heavy  competition,  the  manufacturers  wanted  to  keep 
the  Canadian  market  for  Canadians  by  burdening  goods  imported 
from  abroad  with  heavy  customs  duties.  The  sharp-eyed  Mac- 
donald  saw  in  this  high-tariff  or  protectionist  movement  a  means 
of  returning  to  power.  He  seized  on  the  demand  that,  if  there 
could  not  be  reciprocity  of  trade  with  the  Americans,  there  should 
be  'reciprocity  of  tariffs';  that  is,  Canada  should  impose  her  own 
high  tariff  to  strike  back  at  the  United  States. 

It  was  not  a  wholly  sound  idea,  but  it  suited  the  mood  of  the 
times.  The  Conservative  leader,  moreover,  could  claim  that,  since 
the  tariff  would  have  to  be  increased  in  any  case  to  meet  the 
government's  need  of  revenue,  the  increased  duties  could  be 
arranged  to  the  advantage  of  Canada:  to  protect  the  home  market 
for  Canadians,  to  foster  Canadian  industry,  and  so  to  bring  about 
a  national  revival  of  trade.  Under  the  persuasive  name  of  the 
'National  Policy,'  Macdonald  put  his  plan  before  the  country  in 
the  election  of  1878.  The  free-trade  Liberals  clung  to  a  low  tariff. 
But  having  failed  to  halt  the  trade  decline,  failed  to  build  the 
Canadian  Pacific,  and  roused  discontent  in  most  of  the  provinces, 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

they  were  readily  defeated.  Macdonald  swept  back  to  power,  and 
the  first  uncertain  age  in  the  Dominion's  history  came  to  a  close. 
The  hard  times  of  1878  put  a  gloomy  ending  to  the  era.  Yet 
Macdonald  Conservatism  was  back  in  control,  and  hopes  were 
high  for  the  future. 

4    The  Life  of  the  Young  Dominion 

When  the  Dominion  of  Canada  came  into  being  in  1867  it  con- 
tained about  35300,000  people,  and  the  addition  of  new  provinces 
hi  the  next  few  years  did  not  bring  many  thousands  more.  On- 
tario and  Quebec  together  held  about  three-quarters  of  this  popu- 
lation. While  Ontario  had  the  larger  share  and  continued  to  grow 
fairly  steadily,  Quebec's  population  increased  only  slowly,  thanks 
to  the  constant  drain  of  large  numbers  of  French  Canadians  into 
the  factories  of  the  north-eastern  United  States.  The  emigration 
to  the  United  States  from  all  parts  of  Canada  was,  in  fact,  the 
chief  reason  why  the  Dominion  did  not  grow  as  fast  as  expected 
in  the  years  that  followed.  The  peak  of  immigration  from  Britain 
had  passed  before  Confederation  and  a  great  new  wave  from  the 
British  Isles  did  not  begin  until  the  turn  of  the  twentieth  century. 
Consequently,  by  the  time  of  Macdonald's  death  in  1891,  the 
population  of  Canada  had  only  risen  to  4,800,000.  But  one  result 
of  the  decline  of  immigration  was  that  the  people  of  English- 
speaking  Canada  grew  increasingly  'Canadian'  in  their  outlook. 
And  though  the  Dominion  rose  rather  slowly,  foiling  the  brightest 
hopes  of  the  nation-builders,  it  still  gave  a  good  life  to  the  mass  of 
its  inhabitants,  even  in  the  long  depression  after  1873. 

The  main  ways  of  life  in  the  new  Dominion  had  not  changed 
greatly  since  the  pioneer  age.  Lumbering  was  still  of  prime  im- 
portance in  1867;  wooden  ship-building  reached  its  highest  peak 
in  the  years  after  the  American  Civil  War.  Fishing  in  the  Mari- 
times,  farming  in  central  Canada,  and  mining  and  the  fur  trade  in 
the  West  remained  the  other  chief  employments.  Yet  the  comforts 
of  life  had  improved  considerably  since  pioneer  days.  Towns  had 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

grown,  railways  and  manufacturing  spread;  and  already  by  1867 
important  changes  were  under  way  that  would  greatly  alter  Canada 
in  the  next  thirty  years. 

These  changes  were  for  the  most  part  the  result  of  the  rise  of 
industry  in  central  Canada.  Compared  with  the  industrialism  that 
came  in  a  later  day,  this  was  small-scale  manufacturing,  a  matter 
of  boots  and  shoes,  woollens,  furniture,  and  farm  machinery.  But 
compared  with  what  had  been,  it  was  an  important  step  forward 
for  the  Dominion.  As  the  factories  of  central  Canada  grew,  so  its 
farmers  turned  increasingly  from  growing  grain  for  export  to 
mixed  farming  in  order  to  supply  the  local  manufacturing  towns. 
Ontario's  grain  fields  in  any  case  were  passing  their  prime.  Thus 
by  the  i89o's,  central  Canada  was  becoming  a  region  of  mixed 
farming,  dairying,  and  fruit  growing;  while,  of  course,  broad  new 
grainlands  were  being  brought  under  the  plough  in  the  far  western 
prairies.  Various  minerals,  copper,  lead  and  gypsum,  for  example, 
were  being  produced  in  central  Canada,  and  other  minerals,  es- 
pecially coal,  in  the  Maritimes.  Eastern  Canada  as  a  whole  was 
broadening  out  into  new  activities,  and  its  old  basic  occupations 
of  lumbering  and  ship-building  were  less  important  than  before. 
Central  Canada  in  particular  was  becoming  a  well-rounded,  thick- 
ly settled  region  of  small  farms  and  busy  towns. 

The  Maritimes,  however,  were  falling  behind  in  the  rising  in- 
dustrial age.  Their  coal  went  to  central  Canadian  factories;  indus- 
try did  not  come  to  the  Maritimes.  Nor  did  the  great  flow  of 
trade  that  they  had  hoped  for  come  to  their  ports  over  the  new 
railways.  Although  the  lines  did  bring  some  traffic,  the  plain  feet 
was  that,  since  water  transport  is  cheaper  than  land,  it  paid  to  ship 
most  inland  goods  through  Montreal  or  American  ports,  and  not 
to  make  the  longer  rail  journey  to  the  Maritimes'  harbours  on  the 
eastern  tip  of  the  continent.  And  so  the  Atlantic  provinces  made 
far  slower  progress  than  the  rest  of  Canada. 

In  Ontario  and  Quebec,  meanwhile,  the  growing  strength  of  in- 
dustry showed  itself  in  the  mounting  demand  for  a  protective 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

tariff  that  would  preserve  the  home  market  for  Canadian  manu- 
facturers. The  growth  of  finance  went  with  industrial  advance. 
Toronto  had  now  become  a  powerful  rival  of  Montreal ;  its  own 
great  banks  and  financial  companies  competed  with  those  of  the 
older  centre  for  control  of  Canadian  business.  By  the  1890*5 
Toronto  had  become  the  second  metropolis  of  Canada.  Two  other 
leading  Canadian  cities  really  began  in  this  era.  With  the  com- 
pletion of  the  Canadian  Pacific  in  1885,  Vancouver  came  into 
existence  as  the  western  outlet  of  the  transcontinental  railway 
system,  while  Winnipeg  soon  rose  out  of  Fort  Garry  as  the  chief 
prairie  business  centre,  once  western  settlement  was  under  way. 

Although  Canada  was  altering,  in  the  first  thirty  years  of  the 
young  Dominion,  most  of  its  people  continued  to  live  in  the 
country,  not  in  the  towns.  The  life  of  the  Quebec  farm,  or  the 
Maritime  fishing  village  had  changed  but  little,  even  though  the 
roar  of  trains  and  the  humming  of  telegraph  wires  through  the 
countryside  told  of  a  changing  pace  in  Canada.  In  Ontario  stone 
or  brick  farmhouses  had  replaced  pioneer  log  cabins,  orchards  and 
pastures  the  dark  bush,  and  trim  buggies  on  springs  the  bone- 
bruising  carts  of  early  days.  Yet  still  the  people  lived  close  to  their 
own  countryside  and  found  their  pleasures  in  the  family  circle,  the 
church  'social'  or  perhaps  the  political  picnic.  Though  communi- 
cations had  greatly  improved  there  was  not  yet  much  travel  from 
province  to  province,  except  for  the  'drummer',  or  travelling  sales- 
man, from  some  city  trading-house. 

The  principal  towns  showed  signs  of  progress  in  the  many  new 
churches  or  the  large  public  buildings  raised— most  of  them,  un- 
fortunately, in  the  worst  period  of  Victorian  bad  taste  in  architec- 
ture. Gas-lighting  and  horse-drawn  tram  cars  made  their  appear- 
ance. Yet  even  the  main  streets  were  usually  still  unpaved,  and 
'sidewalks',  where  they  were  found,  were  frequently  only  of 
planks.  In  the  towns,  however,  the  level  of  culture  was  rising. 
Theatres  were  well  attended,  especially  when  European  'greats' 
from  Jenny  Lind  to  Madame  Modjeska  arrived  on  tour.  Musical 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

societies,  public  libraries,  philosophical  clubs,  all  sprang  up. 
Painting  and  sculpture  were  slower  to  develop,  though  the  first 
Canadian  artists  made  a  beginning  at  this  time,  and  French 
Canada  had  long  had  a  tradition  of  fine  wood-carving. 

A  truly  Canadian  literature  was  also  slow  to  appear.  Quebec 
had  laid  foundations  with  F.  X.  Garneau,  the  first  great  historian 
of  French  Canada,  who  died  in  1866,  and  with  Octave  Cr6mazie, 
the  'father  of  French-Canadian  poetry',  who  lived  till  1879.  Wor- 
thy successors  followed  them  in  prose  and  poetry,  but  in  English- 
speaking  Canada  there  was  less  literary  development.  In  1877, 
however,  William  Kirby  wrote  The  Golden  Dog,  a  tale  of  Quebec 
City  in  the  last  days  of  New  France,  and  this  was  probably  the  first 
important  English-Canadian  novel.  In  English  Canada,  moreover, 
some  of  its  ablest  journalists  were  at  work  in  the  period  after  Con- 
federation. Out  of  this  journalism  gradually  came  monthly  and 
weekly  periodicals  that  showed  promising  ability  and  an  earnest 
desire  to  be  Canadian;  in  short,  to  give  the  new  Dominion  a 
character  and  viewpoint  of  its  own. 

Much  of  this  development  was  related  to  the  Canada  First 
movement,  which  began  in  the  early  1870*5  among  a  group  of  able 
young  men  in  Toronto.  Its  aim  was  to  build  a  new  nationality;  to 
shape  a  national  spirit  in  Canada,  and  unite  the  parts  of  the 
Dominion  in  a  common  outlook  that  would,  indeed,  put  Canada 
first  The  movement  latgely  expressed  the  bright  confidence  of 
the  first  few  years  after  Confederation,  and  soon  foundered  in  the 
Great  Depression  that  followed.  Yet  before  its  death  Canada  First 
produced  the  writings  of  William  Foster  and  Charles  Mair,  the 
poet,  as  well  as  a  short-lived  but  brilliant  journal,  the  Nation.  The 
Nation  (1874-6)  was  influenced  and  supported  by  Goldwin  Smith, 
former  Oxford  professor  of  Modern  History,  who  had  settled  in 
Toronto  with  high  hopes  for  the  future  of  Canada.  Edward 
Blake,  the  prominent  Liberal,  at  first  also  befriended  Canada 
First,  believing  as  he  did  in  greater  national  freedom  for  Canada. 
But  Canada  First  was  not  to  capture  the  Liberal  party.  The  older 


THE  NEW  DOMINION,    1867-78 

Liberals  feared  that  it  meant  the  empire  last  or  not  at  all,  and 
George  Brown's  mighty  Globe  strongly  attacked  the  Nation.  Blake 
also  abandoned  the  movement,  although  it  was  not  really  opposed 
to  the  British  tie.  And  Goldwin  Smith,  who  had  certainly  looked 
to  national  independence  for  Canada,  became  bitterly  disillu- 
sioned. He  spent  the  rest  of  his  long  life  in  the  Dominion  attack- 
ing the  dreams  of  nationalism  and  suggesting  annexation  to  the 
United  States  as  the  only  way  out. 

Canada  First  and  the  Nation.,  however,  left  a  heritage  for  the 
future.  The  Canadian  Monthly  (1872-82),  both  a  political  and 
a  literary  paper,  carried  on  the  effort  to  develop  Canadian  culture 
and  sounded  the  national  note  of  Canada  First.  The  Week  (1883- 
96)  was  less  directly  connected  with  the  earlier  movement,  but  its 
literary  merit  was  even  higher.  In  fact,  it  has  been  judged  the 
best  weekly  journal  that  Canada  has  yet  seen.  Charles  G.  D. 
Roberts,  a  youthful  poet  from  the  Maritimes,  edited  it  briefly. 
His  writings  and  those  of  Archibald  Lampman  and  many  other 
new  authors  appeared  in  its  pages.  In  1880,  Roberts  had  pub- 
lished his  Orion  and  Other  Poems:,  with  this  a  Canadian  school  of 
poetry  began.  Lampman,  then  a  university  student  in  Toronto, 
found  in  Orion  proof  that  Canadian  literature  no  longer  need  lag 
behind,  making  colonial  copies  of  the  work  of  older  lands.  He 
was  greatly  stirred  by  it,  and  so  were  other  young  poets.  By  the 
i89o's,  Lampman^  Roberts,  Bliss  Carman,  and  Duncan  Campbell 
Scott,  were  shaping  the  'golden  age  of  Canadian  lyric  poetry'. 
This  far,  at  least,  the  young  Dominion  had  come.  Despite  the 
discouragements  of  depression  years,  Canada  was  beginning  to 
express  her  own  spirit  and  feelings. 

Education  was  also  developing  steadily  in  the  new  Dominion. 
The  University  of  Toronto  was  already  a  large  institution  when 
the  Dominion  was  born,  and  several  other  colleges  came  to  unite 
with  it  on  a  federal  basis,  like  that  of  Canada  herself.  The  flour- 
ishing universities  were  founding  a  tradition  of  Canadian  scholar- 
ship. Public  education  was  general,  and  by  now  it  was  usually 






THE  NEW  DOMINION,   1867-78 

free  and  compulsory.  On  the  whole  the  young  Dominion  had 
little  to  be  ashamed  of,  either  in  the  standards  by  which  most  of 
its  people  lived,  or  in  the  amount  of  learning  that  they  could 
obtain.  Granted  that  progress  was  faster  and  prosperity  greater 
in  the  United  States;  granted  that  learning  and  the  arts  were 
more  advanced  there — and  above  all  in  Europe:  Canada  still 
offered  ample  opportunities  for  a  healthy,  diligent  people.  Its  life 
might  seem  less  spacious  and  comfortable  than  the  American,  its 
culture  far  behind  Britain's.  But  the  young  Dominion  that  had 
so  recently  emerged  from  the  pioneer  age  had  reason  only  for  self- 
criticism,  not  for  disappointment. 




I    The  Brave  Days  of  the  National  Policy 

When  Sir  John  Macdonald  returned  to  power  in  September 
18783  he  laid  down  plans  for  one  of  the  most  daring  periods  of 
nation-building  in  Canada's  history.  For  his  ventures  he  had  the 
eager  support  of  the  mass  of  the  Canadian  people,  who  felt  that 
the  Liberals  had  failed  them  in  their  time  of  need,  leaving  the 
Dominion  divided,  the  western  empire  still  empty  and  the  Pacific 
railway  unbuilt.  In  the  next  ten  years  Liberalism  could  make 
litde  headway  against  'John  A.'  Mackenzie  had  been  replaced  as 
Liberal  leader  by  Edward  Blake,  the  ablest  lawyer  in  Canada  and 
a  powerful  parliamentary  debater.  But  all  the  sharp  thrusts  of  the 
keen,  cold  mind  of  Blake  against  the  government's  follies  and 
waste  could  not  convince  the  people  that  the  Liberals'  grey  policy 
of  caution  was  the  right  one  for  Canada.  They  believed  in  Mac- 
donald's  bold  national  plans,  shared  his  breezy,  dauntless  confi- 
dence. And  a  brief  recovery  of  trade,  soon  after  the  Conservatives 
were  elected,  seemed  at  first  to  justify  that  faith. 

Macdonald  had  at  once  plunged  ahead  with  his  National  Policy 
of  tariff  protection.  The  tariff  of  1879  made  the  greatest  change  of 
any  up  to  that  time  in  Canadian  commercial  policy.  It  brought  in 
a  thorough-going  scheme  of  protective  customs  duties,  on  farm 
products  as  well  as  on  manufactures,  and  raised  the  duties  on 
manufactured  goods  from  17$  per  cent  to  25  per  cent  and  over. 
This  was  still  not  as  high  as  the  American  tariff;  in  general, 
Canadian  protective  tariffs  would  not  rise  as  high  as  those  of  the 
United  States.  Yet  it  was  a  far  cry  from  British  free  trade  and 
even  from  past  Canadian  tariff  policies  before  Confederation. 
After  the  removal  of  the  old  colonial  system  had  permitted  the 



colonies  to  control  their  own  tariffs,  Canada,  and  the  Maritimes 
especially,  had  kept  their  customs  duties  fairly  low.  Because  young 
countries  have  not  much  wealth  to  tax  directly,  it  had  been  neces- 
sary for  them  to  raise  government  revenue  through  duties  on  im- 
ported goods.  Hence,  although  free  trade  was  the  ideal,  low  or 
'revenue'  tariffs  had  been  the  practice  in  British  North  America. 
True,  the  Canadian  tariff  of  1858-9,  that  had  caused  an  outcry  in 
free-trade  Britain,  had  given  a  certain  amount  of  protection  to 
Canadian  manufacturing.  Its  stated  purpose,  however,  had  been 
to  raise  more  revenue  to  meet  large  public  debts.  The  duties  had 
been  lowered  again  before  Confederation,  and  from  the  birth  of 
the  Dominion  to  1879  revenue  tariffs  had  once  more  been  the 
rule.  But  now  the  National  Policy  was  bringing  in  protection. 
Could  it  be  justified? 

A  protective  tariff  plainly  meant  that  goods  would  cost  more  to 
buy  in  Canada,  since  purchasers  would  have  to  pay  the  extra  cost 
of  the  customs  duties,  or  their  equivalent.  This  affected  the  far- 
mers particularly.  They  sold  a  large  part  of  their  own  products 
abroad,  and  thus  could  not  reap  the  full  advantage  of  higher  prices 
in  the  Canadian  market,  although  they  still  had  to  pay  more  for 
the  goods  they  bought.  In  time,  opposition  to  the  protective 
tariff  was  to  centre  among  the  farmers  of  the  Dominion.  On  the 
other  hand,  manufacturers,  or  any  interest  that  sold  mostly  in  the 
home  market,  would  be  helped  by  higher  prices  and  the  cutting 
down  of  competition  from  abroad.  Given  protection,  it  was 
argued,  these  interests  would  grow,  and  Canada's  wealth  and 
prosperity  with  them,  until  the  demand  for  all  sorts  of  goods  at 
home  became  so  large  that  every  kind  of  producer,  farmers  in- 
cluded, would  benefit  from  good  times  and  ample  markets  in 

The  value  of  such  an  argument  can  hardly  be  settled  here. 
Clearly  the  widespread  adoption  of  protection  harms  world  trade 
and  has  left  nations  to-day  struggling  against  a  world-wide  tangle 
of  extremely  high  tariffs.  Just  as  dearly,  no  country  has  been  able 



to  afford  free  trade,  except  Great  Britain  at  the  height  of  her  power. 
The  answer,  as  usual,  lies  probably  between  the  two  extremes  of 
trade  policy.  Yet  as  far  as  Canada  is  concerned,  the  protective 
tariff  system  that  was  adopted  under  Macdonald,  and  which  still 
exists,  with  increases  here,  decreases  there,  did  much  in  the  long 
run  to  develop  the  wealth  and  encourage  the  industry  of  the 
Dominion.  The  system  begun  in  1879  has  become  woven  into  the 
history  and  life  of  the  country,  though  no  one  can  truly  say  what 
else  'might  have  been'. 

Macdonald's  National  Policy,  moreover,  was  adopted  at  a  diffi- 
cult moment,  when  other  policies  had  failed.  It  was  arranged  to 
promise  something  to  everyone,  even  the  farmers,  and  it  was 
coupled  with  two  other  great  designs:  the  building  of  the  Cana- 
dian Pacific  and  the  settlement  of  the  West.  All  three  were  meant 
to  work  together.  The  tariff  would  shape  a  national  market,  the 
railway  would  serve  it  from  coast  to  coast.  The  railway,  also,  would 
carry  settlers  to  the  West  and  bring  their  farm  products  to  eastern 
purchasers.  And,  thanks  to  the  tariff,  eastern  industry  would 
grow  rapidly;  both  to  supply  manufacturers  for  the  rising  num- 
bers of  western  farmers  and  to  provide  a  large  town  population 
that  would  constantly  need  western  foodstuffs.  The  National 
Policy,  then,  was  really  a  three-cornered  scheme  of  nation-build- 
ing, dependent  on  railways  and  settlement  as  well  as  the  tariff  for 
its  full  success.  Its  aim  was  a  well-balanced,  prosperous  nation. 

The  tariff  had  been  easily  adopted,  but  now  railway-building 
and  western  settlement  had  to  go  forward.  Settlement,  obviously, 
could  not  come  until  the  railway  was  built,  for  no  great  number  of 
settlers  could  move  to  the  vast  and  far-distant  West  except  by 
railway;  nor  would  they  want  to  go  until  they  could  obtain  sup- 
plies fairly  easily  and  ship  their  products  out  to  market.  The 
Macdonald  government  accordingly  turned  to  the  question  of  the 
Canadian  Pacific.  They  considered  that  only  a  private  company 
could  build  the  line  quickly  enough.  Although  their  fingers  had 
been  burnt  before,  they  again  offered  terms  for  a  charter  to  build 



the  C.P.R.  The  charter  terms  seemed  sufficiently  generous.  The 
railway  company  was  to  receive  the  track  mileage  already  com- 
pleted, a  money  payment  to  aid  in  meeting  construction  costs  of 
twenty-five  million  dollars,  and  a  grant  of  twenty-five  million 
acres  of  good  land,  consisting  of  every  second  'section*  (six  hun- 
dred and  forty  acres)  within  a  belt  twenty-four  miles  wide  on 
either  side  of  the  railway  line  across  the  prairies.  The  idea  behind 
this  railway  land  grant  was  that  the  company,  by  selling  farms  to 
incoming  settlers,  would  earn  back  the  tremendous  costs  of  build- 
ing the  transcontinental,  and,  it  was  thought,  make  a  good  profit 

Besides  all  this,  the  Canadian  Pacific  company  was  to  be  for  ever 
free  of  taxation  on  its  railway  property,  and  to  have  a  monopoly 
of  traffic  for  twenty  years  in  western  Canada.  That  is  to  say,  no 
competing  railway  could  be  built  to  the  border  to  link  up  with 
American  systems  until  the  east-west  traffic  of  the  C.P.R.  had 
been  established  with  a  twenty  years*  head-start.  In  return  for 
these  terms  the  company  had  to  build  a  railway  from  central 
Canada  to  the  Pacific  within  ten  years.  Surely  the  Liberals  were 
right  in  attacking  the  charter  as  a  most  extravagant  kind  of  bargain. 

And  yet  the  task  involved  was  so  tremendous  that  before  the 
railway  was  finished  the  charter  terms  had  proved  insufficient. 
The  United  States  had  been  a  powerful,  wealthy  nation  of  forty 
million  people  when  it  built  its  first  Pacific  railway  in  the  i86o's. 
The  young  Dominion  had  only  four  million  when  it  undertook  a 
similar  line  in  the  i88o's.  Moreover,  while  American  lines  could 
begin  in  the  rich  and  well-populated  Middle  West,  the  Canadian 
railway  had  to  cross  nine  hundred  miles  of  the  Shield,  a  barrier  of 
bleak,  difficult  wilderness,  offering  small  hope  of  traffic,  before  the 
great  prairies  were  even  reached.  Then,  too,  the  Pacific  mountains 
were  higher  and  harder  to  cross  in  the  Canadian  half  of  the  conti- 
nent. A  pass  suitable  for  a  railway  through  the  blank  rampart 
of  the  Selkirks  was  only  found  in  1882,  when  the  track  was 
nearing  the  mountains.  And  in  addition,  the  Canadian  Pacific 



company  found  it  hard  to  raise  funds  in  the  London  money  mar- 
ket, the  financial  centre  of  the  world.  British  investors  remembered 
the  losses  of  the  Grand  Trunk,  and  would  have  little  to  do  with 
this  new  Canadian  railway — that  would  one  day  turn  out  to  be  a 
striking  success. 

Consequently,  the  company  that  secured  the  Pacific  railway 
charter  in  October,  1880,  was  for  the  most  part  a  Canadian  group 
centred  on  Montreal.  By  constructing  the  Canadian  Pacific,  Mon- 
treal renewed  its  old  commercial  links  with  the  far  west,  lost  since 
fur  trade  days.  A  new  commercial  empire  of  the  St  Lawrence 
sprang  up,  based  on  railway  lines,  but  far  greater  than  that  of  the 
unsuccessful  Grand  Trunk.  Once  again  an  east-west  trading 
system  reached  across  the  northern  continent,  linking  it  together, 
tying  the  Pacific  slopes  and  the  North- West  prairies  with  the 
great  river  and  the  Atlantic.  And  the  men  who  built  the  railway, 
who  gave  the  vast  and  vague  Dominion  a  backbone  of  steel,  were 
no  less  daring  and  determined  than  Alexander  Mackenzie  and  the 
fur  lords  of  the  old  North  West  Company.  Donald  Smith  and 
George  Stephen,  the  railway  financiers,  William  Van  Home,  the 
construction  manager:  these  were  the  new  moulders  of  Montreal's 
destiny,  and  moulders,  too,  of  a  Canadian  nation 

While  Smith  handled  affairs  at  headquarters  in  Montreal  and 
Stephen  toured  New  York  and  London  money  markets  in  search 
of  funds,  Van  Home  pressed  the  building  forward  with  all  possible 
speed.  The  line  crept  along  the  edge  of  the  Shield,  beside  the 
rugged  shore  of  Lake  Superior,  around  rocky  bluffs  and  over 
bottomless  muskeg  swamp,  until  it  came  into  the  prairies,  where 
it  raced  rapidly  ahead,  over  the  flat  lands.  But  meanwhile  the 
Company's  financial  problems  had  grown  steadily  more  pressing, 
and  time  after  time  it  had  to  seek  more  aid  from  the  government. 
Finally  even  the  confidence  of  Macdonald,  under  relentless  Lib- 
eral attack,  was  shaken  by  the  mounting  cost  and  the  prospect  of 
pouring  money  into  a  C.P.R.  pit  as  bottomless  as  the  muskeg.  It 
was  then  that  a  party  follower  reminded  him  that  'the  day  the 



Canadian  Pacific  busts,  the  Conservative  party  busts  the  day 
after.'  The  two  had  become  so  thoroughly  entwined.  But  at  this 
critical  moment,  in  1885,  a  rebellion  broke  out  in  the  prairies  of 
the  North  West,  and,  strangely  enough,  saved  the  railway  by 
proving  its  value  to  the  public. 

2    Problems  of  Opening  the  Prairies 

The  North  West  rebellion  of  1885  had  much  in  common  with 
the  earlier  rising  in  the  Red  River.  Most  of  the  Metis  had  moved 
west  to  the  empty  banks  of  the  North  Saskatchewan  river  as 
settlement  spread  in  Manitoba.  They  could  not  breathe  easily  in 
civilization.  But  now,  as  the  railway  approached,  civilization  was 
threatening  them  once  more  on  the  Saskatchewan.  Surveyors 
appeared  again,  and  again  the  Metis  feared  for  the  titles  to  their 
land.  When  petitions  to  Ottawa  brought  little  response  the  Metis 
sent  to  their  old  leader,  who  was  living  in  the  United  States,  to 
ask  his  help.  Louis  Riel  returned  to  his  people.  But  this  was  an 
even  more  unbalanced  Riel,  who  had  spent  two  of  the  fifteen 
years  since  the  Red  River  rising  in  mental  hospitals.  If  Mac- 
donald's  government  deserves  blame  for  not  meeting  the  Metis* 
grievances  in  time,  Riel  brought  no  benefit  to  his  followers. 

He  soon  launched  the  M6tis'  protests  on  a  more  violent  course. 
This  time  there  was  the  presence  of  Indian  bands  to  add  to  the 
violence.  The  plains  Indians,  tied  by  blood  to  the  Metis,  shared 
their  confusion  and  their  fears.  The  buffalo  herds  that  they  lived 
by  were  fast  disappearing  from  the  prairies.  The  approach  of  the 
railway  and  settlement  threatened  to  destroy  their  world  of  end- 
less horizons  and  leave  them  only  the  limits  of  the  Indian  reserva- 
tions. For  them  as  for  the  Metis,  therefore,  the  rebellion  of  1885 
was  a  last-ditch  defence  of  the  old  life  of  the  hunter  and  fur  trader 
against  the  new  age  of  the  locomotive  and  the  farmer.  There  were 
several  sharp  and  bitter  clashes — Duck  Lake,  Frog  Lake,  and  in 
the  gun-pits  at  Batoche.  Indian  war  cries  for  the  last  time  struck 



terror  into  white  men  in  Canada,  and  Metis'  hunting  rifles  made 
guerilla  warfare  effective  and  deadly. 

Yet  the  rebellion,  a  hopeless  effort,  was  quickly  put  down.  Riel 
was  filled  with  wild  dreams  of  a  new  state  and  a  new  religion  and 
gave  no  effective  leadership,  while  the  Catholic  priests  of  the 
French  Metis  were  thoroughly  opposed  to  the  rising.  More  than 
seven  thousand  troops  were  hurriedly  raised  in  eastern  Canada. 
Under  General  Middleton  they  moved  west,  crushed  the  rebel- 
lion, captured  Riel,  and  made  terms  with  the  Metis  and  Indians. 
And  the  troops  sent  west  moved  swiftly  over  the  Canadian  Pacific 
to  the  eend  of  steel3  at  Regina.  They  took  days  to  reach  the  prairies, 
whereas  the  expedition  to  the  Red  River  in  1870  had  taken 
months.  It  was  striking  proof  of  what  the  railway  could  do. 

After  this  there  was  little  trouble  in  granting  the  Canadian 
Pacific  sufficient  aid  to  finish  the  job.  It  was  very  near  completion 
now.  On  7  November,  1885,  at  Craigellachie  in  a  rocky  pass  high 
in  the  British  Columbia  mountains,  the  last  spike  was  driven. 
East  and  West  had  been  joined — in  five  years,  not  ten.  Joseph 
Howe's  prophecy  had  come  true,  as  the  whistle  of  the  locomotive 
echoed  through  the  lonely  canyons  of  the  Rockies.  Macdonald 
was  one  of  the  early  passengers  to  cross  the  continent  on  the  new 
railway.  As  he  stood  by  the  Pacific  shore  on  Burrard  Inlet,  where 
the  new  port  city  of  Vancouver  was  rising,  he  might  have  reflected 
that  this  was  the  end  of  a  journey  that  had  begun  at  Charlottetown 
on  the  Atlantic  twenty-two  years  before.  Steel  and  steam,  vision 
and  daring,  had  met  the  challenge  of  a  continent. 

The  C.P.R.  was  in  being;  now  western  settlement  could  pro- 
ceed. Much  had  already  been  done  under  Macdonald  towards 
opening  the  West.  In  1873  the  North  West  Mounted  Police- 
later  the  Royal  North  West  Mounted,  now  the  Royal  Canadian 
Mounted — had  been  formed  to  bring  order  to  the  great  domain. 
In  1874  three  hundred  men  had  ridden  west  in  the  bright  scarlet 
tunics  that  weremeant  to  remind  the  Indians  of  the  British  red- 
coats, whom  they  had  long  ago  learned  to  trust.  By  sheer  will  and 





THE  WEST  1869-1919 

Canadian  Pacific  Railway 

(Original  main  line,,  completed  1885) 

Other  Canadian  Pacific  lines 

Canadian  Northern,  began  1899  x  Combined  with  Grand  Trunk  and 

Grand  Trunk  Pacific-National          Intercolonial,  1923,  to  form 

Transcontinental,  begun  1903      )  Canadian  National  Railways 

(other  connecting  lines  are  not  shown) 



force  of  character  the  men  of  the  North  West  Mounted  earned 
respect  and  established  law.  They  drove  out  American  whisky 
traders  who  were  mining  Indian  health  and  morals.  They  success- 
fully moved  Indian  tribes  on  to  reservations  in  order  to  open  lands 
for  fanning.  In  general,  they  prepared  the  West  for  settlement. 
Nor  did  the  short  outburst  of  1885,  which  affected  a  limited  area 
only,  change  the  general  picture  of  orderliness  that  marked  this 
last  great  North  American  frontier.  Meanwhile,  in  1877  a  separ- 
ate government  for  the  North  West  Territories  had  been  set  up 
at  Battleford.  The  Dominion  government  had  also  established  a 
general  western  land  policy  which  offered  land  for  sale  at  reason- 
able prices,  but  included  a  large  amount  of  free  or  'homestead' 
land  that  could  be  secured  by  farmers  who  developed  it.  Yet 
settlers  did  not  come  in  the  onrushing  wave  that  had  been  ex- 

There  had  been  some  new  settlement  in  Manitoba  in  the  seven- 
ties, part  of  it  group  settlement,  such  as  that  of  the  Icelanders,  or 
the  Mennonite  religious  communities.  Pioneers  came  as  well  from 
Ontario;  indeed,  it  is  often  said  that  Manitoba  is  the  child  of  On- 
tario. In  the  early  i88o's  the  building  of  the  C.P.R.  had  caused  a 
brief  land  boom  along  the  railway  route  in  Manitoba  and  Sas- 
katchewan. Winnipeg  had  jumped  ahead.  But  the  bubble  burst 
when  it  was  discovered  that  settlers  were  not  following  the  railway 
in,  except  by  handfuls.  The  brief  world  trade  recovery  had  ended; 
the  flurry  of  activity  in  Canada,  due  to  the  railway  construction, 
stopped  when  the  railway  needed  no  more  men  and  building 
materials.  The  feet  was,  that  in  the  renewed  depression  people 
did  not  have  the  money  to  strike  out  for  the  Canadian  West  and 
begin  a  new  life  there.  In  any  case  the  American  West  was  easier 
to  reach  and  still  had  land  available.  Moreover,  because  of  the 
depression,  the  world  did  not  need — could  not  buy — the  produce 
of  a  great  new  wheat-producing  region.  And  so  lie  West  stayed 
empty.  There  was  no  reason  to  settle  it  yet. 

Hence  Macdonald's  National  Policy  failed  at  the  vital  third 



point,  western  settlement,  and  because  of  this,  the  whole  design 
failed.  The  railway  did  not  flourish;  the  tariff  did  not  build 
national  prosperity,  but  only  rising  discontent  in  those  sections 
which  felt  especially  burdened  by  the  weight  of  customs  duties. 
Though  Macdonald's  nation-building  had  accomplished  an  amaz- 
ing amount  in  a  few  short  years,  it  had  not  achieved  its  main 
objects.  Now  the  brave  days  of  the  National  Policy  were  to  be 
succeeded  by  a  long  period  of  mounting  protests  against  the  ideals 
and  policies  of  Macdonald  nationalism. 

3     The  Rise  of  Sectional  Discontents 

Many  of  Canada's  troubles  in  the  later  eighties  and  early  nine- 
ties could  be  traced  to  the  great  depression  that  had  gripped  the 
world  since  1873.  As  its  shadow  did  not  lift,  but  darkened,  the 
early  spirit  of  unity  and  confident  nationalism  that  Macdonald 
had  won  for  the  Dominion  was  succeeded  by  reviving  sectional- 
ism. Perhaps  the  depressed  times  hit  the  Maritimes  the  hardest, 
for  in  the  Atlantic  provinces  there  was  little  industrial  growth,  as  in 
central  Canada,  which  the  tariff  at  least  might  shelter  from  the 
worst  effects  of  depression.  Instead  the  Maritimes  seemed  to  be 
going  into  a  decline.  The  depression,  indeed,  had  come  at  the 
worst  possible  time,  when  the  old  Atlantic  trading  system  had 
fallen  on  evil  days.  The  steady  shrinking  of  the  important  West 
Indies  trade  as  the  sugar  islands  went  downhill,  the  loss  of  Mari- 
time shipping  advantages  in  the  new  era  of  iron  and  steam,  the 
comparative  failure  of  Maritime  ports  to  make  railways  pay — all 
these  things  spelt  gloom  and  discontent  in  the  three  Atlantic 
provinces.  They  condemned  Macdonald's  protective  tariff  for 
adding  to  their  burdens  and  doing  them  no  good.  They  accused 
it,  too,  of  raising  industry  in  central  Canada  at  the  expense  of  the 
Maritimes,  though  it  was  natural  that  industry  should  concentrate 
itself  in  the  much  bigger  central  market.  In  addition,  because 
Confederation  had  unluckily  occurred  when  the  Maritimes'  golden 
age  of  'wood,  wind  and  water'  was  coming  to  an  end,  they  tended 



to  blame  their  changed  condition  on  the  federal  union.  Hence 
sectional  unrest  grew  strong  in  the  Acadian  region.  In  1886  a 
Liberal  government  in  Nova  Scotia  even  introduced  a  resolution 
for  separation  from  the  Dominion  as  the  only  possible  answer  to 
the  problems  of  that  province.  The  resolution  was  largely  a  talking 
point,  however,  and  no  steps  towards  separation  were  taken. 

Sectionalism  was  growing  hi  the  West  as  well.  British  Columbia 
was  fairly  content,  now  that  the  Pacific  railway  had  been  built,  but 
Manitoba  was  anything  but  pleased  with  the  C.P.R.  It  did  not 
like  the  term  of  the  Canadian  Pacific  charter  which  gave  the  rail- 
way a  monopoly  of  traffic  for  twenty  years.  This,  in  Manitoba's 
eyes,  simply  allowed  the  C.P.R.  to  charge  high  rates,  since  it  had 
no  competing  railways  to  fear.  The  province  therefore  passed  laws 
chartering  lines  to  the  border  that  would  link  up  with  American 
railroads.  But  the  Dominion  government  was  determined  to 
protect  the  monopoly  guaranteed  to  the  Canadian  Pacific  and  re- 
peatedly used  its  power  of  disallowing  provincial  laws  to  cancel  the 
Manitoba  railway  charters.  Meanwhile  the  weak  little  province  of 
Manitoba,  struggling  in  the  depression,  felt  that  high  railway  rates 
were  holding  back  its  development.  Besides,  since  the  public 
lands  of  the  province  had  been  put  under  Dominion  control  for 
purposes  of  settlement,  Manitoba  had  lost  an  important  source  of 
income,  and  its  government  was  hard  put  to  make  ends  meet.  For 
these  reasons  feeling  mounted  in  this  prairie  province  over  what 
seemed  the  Dominion's  disregard  for  its  just  rights. 

Ontario  under  the  Liberal  government  of  Oliver  Mowat  was 
even  more  outspoken  in  defending  provincial  rights  against  the 
Dominion.  Mowat  had  early  made  himself  the  champion  of  the 
provinces  in  opposing  the  powerful  central  government  that  Mac- 
donald  believed  in.  The  Ontario  leader  fought  numerous  battles 
in  the  law  courts  and  on  the  election  platform  to  preserve  what  he 
considered  to  be  the  rightful  field  of  provincial  authority,  especi- 
ally against  the  wide  use  of  the  Dominion's  power  of  disallowance. 
Accordingly,  as  Macdonald's  national  policies  foiled  to  live  up  to 



their  early  prospects,  and  zeal  for  nationalism  declined,  Mowat 
led  the  attack  on  the  cover-mighty'  rule  of  Ottawa.  Probably 
Macdonald  had  pushed  the  Dominion's  young  national  spirit  too 
far  and  too  fast.  He  had  used  the  powers  of  the  federal  government 
vigorously,  treating  the  provincial  governments  as  little  more  than 
county  councils.  But  loyalty  to  the  Dominion  was  new,  while 
loyalty  to  the  provinces  was  old,  and  might  well  be  put  first  in 
times  of  stress,  when  the  federal  union  did  not  seem  to  be  pro- 
gressing too  successfully. 

The  power  of  provincial  loyalty  was  particularly  evident  in 
Quebec,  always  a  special  section  of  the  Dominion.  For  some  time 
after  Confederation,  however,  Quebec  had  raised  fewer  problems 
for  Macdonald  than  the  other  provinces,  since  the  Conservatives 
had  maintained  their  hold  on  French  Canada.  Cartier  had  died  in 
1873  but  Macdonald  had  found  new  French-Canadian  lieutenants 
in  Langevin  and  Chapleau.  The  Quebec  Liberals,  QT  Rouges,  more- 
over, continued  in  a  state  of  weakness.  Their  previous  history  of 
opposition  to  the  power  of  the  Catholic  clergy  continued  to  brand 
them  as  anti-clericals,  a  damaging  tide  in  Quebec.  And  in  the 
1870*8  the  sworn  foes  of  anti-clericalism,  the  ultramontanes,  who 
believed  in  broad  powers  for  the  church  in  this  world,  were 
advancing  rapidly  in  French  Catholic  Canada.  They  linked  the 
very  idea  of  Liberalism  with  hostility  to  Catholicism.  The  Rouges 
were  struggling  hard  just  to  keep  alive  in  Quebec  when,  in  1877, 
an  able  young  Liberal,  Wilfrid  Laurier,  who  had  been  reared  in 
English  as  well  as  French  thought,  began  a  campaign,  to  align 
Quebec  Liberalism  with  British  Liberalism.  He  sought  to  show 
that  his  party  in  Canada  was  not  in  the  anti-religious,  revolutionary 
tradition  of  the  Liberals  of  Europe,  but  in  the  Christian,  tolerant 
and  moderate  tradition  of  British  Liberalism.  Laurier  put  his 
faith  in  British  political  ideas  of  freedom  and  justice.  His  ability 
to  set  them  before  his  fellow  French  Canadians  did  much  to  save 
his  party  and  to  give  it  a  new  lease  of  life  in  Quebec. 

This  Liberal  revival  under  Laurier  took  some  time  to  affect 



French  Canada.  Meanwhile  Macdonald  Conservatism,  backed  by 
the  ultramontanes,  seemed  solid  and  secure  in  Quebec.  But  in 
1885  came  the  North  West  Rebellion,  and  the  reappearance  of 
Louis  Kiel  let  loose  a  harsh  new  racial  conflict.  Conservative 
unity  began  to  crumble.  Indeed,  French  and  English  in  Canada 
threatened  to  break  apart  as  the  old  gulf  between  them  that  had 
apparently  been  closed  by  Confederation  spread  wide  once  more. 

The  problem  really  went  back  to  the  first  Kiel  rising,  and  to  the 
fact  that  Louis  Kiel  was  a  hero  to  almost  half  the  Canadian  people 
and  a  rebel  to  the  other  half.  Kiel's  escape  from  Red  River  to  the 
United  States  had  prevented  the  dispute  over  him  from  coming  to 
a  head  in  1870;  but  in  1885  he  had  been  captured.  English 
Canada  was  determined  that  this  time  the  dangerous  'fanatic5 
should  pay  the  full  price  for  two  rebellions.  French  Canada  was 
quite  as  convinced  that  Riel  was  a  patriot  who  had  fought  un- 
wisely but  bravely  for  an  ill-treated  French-speaking  people.  The 
murder  of  Thomas  Scott,  committed  in  1870,  rose  up  again  to 
embitter  the  issue.  English  Canada,  Ontario  especially,  demanded 
that  Riel  be  hanged  for  his  crimes;  Quebec  spoke  earnestly  for 
mercy.  Riel  was  tried  in  Regina,  North  West  Territories  (now 
Saskatchewan),  in  the  summer  of  1885.  Though  there  seemed  to 
be  good  reason  to  call  him  insane,  he  rejected  such  a  defence  and 
was  sentenced  to  hang.  Quebec  at  once  called  for  the  sentence  to 
be  altered.  But  Macdonald,  who  had  been  only  too  happy  to  see 
Riel  escape  in  1870  saw  that  the  question  could  not  be  avoided 
this  time.  He  made  a  firm  decision  to  carry  out  the  sentence,  how- 
ever bitterly  Quebec  protested.  In  November  Riel  was  hanged, 
and  probably  did  more  by  his  death  than  by  his  life  to  affect 
Canada,  and  in  no  way  for  the  good. 

His  hanging  heightened  the  sectional  passions.  In  Quebec  Mac- 
donald Conservatism  steadily  lost  ground.  The  skill  of  Macdonald, 
backed  by  Langevin  and  Chapleau,  held  Quebec  votes  in  the 
federal  field  for  a  few  years  more,  but  in  the  provincial  election 
of  1887  the  Conservatives  were  driven  from  power.  A  new  French 



Nationalist  Liberal  government,  led  by  Honore  Mercier,  took 
office.  Mercier  had  all  the  resentment  of  French  Canadian  nat- 
ionalism behind  him,  and  he  was  no  anti-clerical  Rouge  but  a 
friend  of  the  ultramontanes.  In  the  federal  sphere  he  allied  with 
the  Liberals,  now  led  by  Laurier,  and  in  the  provinces  he  made 
common  cause  with  Mowat  of  Ontario  against  the  power  of  Mac- 
donald  and  the  Dominion.  Riding  on  the  wave  of  protest  against 
Macdonald  and  his  policies,  Mercier  called  a  conference  of  the 
provinces  at  Quebec  to  reconsider  the  basis  of  Confederation,  and 
see  whether  the  federal  union  should  not  be  changed— naturally 
in  the  direction  of  weakening  it. 

The  Interprovincial  Conference  met  at  Quebec  in  October, 
1887.  This  outburst  of  sectional  discontents  represented  a  power- 
ful reaction  against  Macdonald  nationalism,  with  its  expensive, 
sweeping  policies  that  had  not  succeeded,  and  its  lordly  domina- 
tion over  the  provinces.  Yet  this  second,  and  less  constructive 
Quebec  Conference  achieved  very -little.  Macdonald  kept  the 
Dominion  out  of  it.  British  Columbia  and  Prince  Edward  Island 
also  stayed  away,  and  of  the  provinces  represented  at  Quebec  all 
but  Manitoba  were  under  Liberal  governments.  Macdonald  could 
therefore  shrug  off  the  Conference  as  a  Liberal  party  gathering. 
But  more  significantly,  the  provinces  at  Quebec  were  united  only 
in  attacking  the  Dominion  government.  They  had  little  else  to 
agree  on.  The  Maritimes  objected  strongly  to  the  tariff,  Ontario 
and  Quebec  were  not  as  concerned;  Manitoba's  railway  problem 
did  not  interest  the  others.  And  while  Ontario  and  Quebec  were 
divided  by  racial  feelings,  they  stood  together  as  wealthy  provinces 
in  the  suspicion  that  the  smaller  ones  chiefly  wanted  more  federal 
money  grants,  which,  in  the  imin^  citizens  of  Ontario  and  Quebec 
would  have  to  pay.  The  Conference  resolutions  therefore  had  to 
be  vague.  They  did  call  for  larger  subsidies  for  the  provinces,  to 
please  Manitoba  and  the  Maritimes,  and  for  a  reduction  of  the 
Dominion's  powers,  mainly  to  please  Ontario  and  Quebec.  But  on 
the  whole  the  Conference  achieved  little  except  to  blow  off  steam. 



Yet  it  was  important.  In  the  first  place,  it  was  the  beginning  of 
a  line  of  interprovincial  conferences  which,  for  better  or  worse, 
have  greatly  affected  Canadian  policitical  development,  and  have 
set  up  almost  a  new  organ  of  government  in  Canada.  In  the  second 
place,  despite  the  obvious  strength  of  sectional  feelings,  the  Con- 
ference revealed  how  the  variety  of  these  feelings  prevented  the 
development  of  a  really  united  opposition  to  Dominion  authority. 
This  would  work  in  the  federal  government's  favour  in  confer- 
ences to  come.  But  in  the  third  place,  and  most  important  in  the 
day  of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  the  Conference  of  1887,  whether 
the  Conservative  leader  by-passed  it  or  not,  revealed  how  limited 
still  was  the  nationalism  that  he  had  tried  to  develop.  It  showed 
the  dangers  of  sectionalism  that  loomed  ahead.  The  skill  of  'Old 
Tomorrow'  might  yet  steer  a  course  through  them  but  under  any 
lesser  captain  they  could  wreck  the  Conservative  ship. 

4    The  Fail  of  Macdonald  Conservatism 

In  1887,  the  year  of  the  Interprovincial  Conference,  Macdonald 
managed  to  win  yet  another  Dominion  election.  The  magic  of  his 
presence  had  not  vanished,  and  behind  him  rallied  all  the  hope 
that  remained  in  Confederation.  Sectionalism  had  not  completely 
conquered.  The  same  forces  which  had  always  bound  Canada  to- 
gether along  the  St  Lawrence  route,  which  had  determined  that 
British  North  America  should  build  its  own  life,  still  expressed 
themselves  in  support  for  Macdonald  and  the  Dominion,  even  in 
Quebec.  For  nationalism  as  well  as  sectionalism  was  present  in 
every  province,  and  Conservatism  still  had  strength. 

In  fact,  after  the  election  of  1887  Edward  Blake  resigned  from 
the  leadership  of  the  Liberal  party,  oppressed  by  his  constant 
defeats  at  the  hand  of  Macdonald.  Laurier  now  became  Liberal 
leader,  and  he  and  his  chief  followers  brought  forward  a  powerful 
new  policy  to  pit  against  the  National  Policy  of  Conservatism. 
Instead  of  the  old  Liberal  refrain,  calling  for  a  revenue  tariff  and 
rigid  economy  in  government,  a  dull  tune  at  best,  the  Liberals 



proposed  complete  or  unrestricted  reciprocity  with  the  United 
States  as  the  cure  for  Canada's  woes.  It  was  an  attractive  idea, 
the  removal  of  all  tariff  barriers  between  the  two  countries — 
complete  free  trade.  Surely  this  would  bring  prosperity  to  Can- 
ada, as  reciprocity  had  done  once  before.  Instead  of  costly  half- 
successful  schemes  to  build  a  national  market  in  the  Dominion  by 
means  of  the  National  Policy,  the  rich  American  market  would 
open  again  to  Canadian  trade.  And  there  seemed  to  be  reason  to 
think  that  if  Canada  suggested  complete  reciprocity,  not  partial, 
as  in  times  past,  the  United  States  might  accept  the  offer.  At  the 
same  time,  however,  unrestricted  reciprocity  meant  a  complete 
abandoning  of  Macdonald's  hope  for  a  well-rounded  Canadian 
economic  life  to  fill  out  the  bonds  of  Confederation. 

Accordingly,  during  the  last  four  years  of  his  life  Macdonald 
was  on  the  defensive,  straggling  to  save  all  he  could  of  his  work 
of  nation-building.  The  Conservative  government  gave  ground, 
repealing  the  monopoly  clause  of  the  C.P.R.  charter  that  had 
angered  Manitoba,  rearranging  tariff  duties  to  soothe  Nova 
Scotia,  giving  up  its  free  use  of  the  power  of  disallowance  that  all 
the  provinces  had  attacked.  But  Macdonald  was  determined  not 
to  yield  on  any  main  point.  As  the  1890'$  began  the  Dominion 
seemed  to  reach  a  low  point  in  its  career.  Its  population  was  al- 
most at  a  standstill,  since  the  number  of  people  leaving  the  country 
for  the  United  States  nearly  equalled  the  rate  of  births  and  the 
trickle  of  immigration  put  together.  This  'drain  to  the  States'  of 
some  of  the  oldest-established  elements  of  the  Canadian  people 
was  one  of  the  Dominion's  gravest  problems.  Together  with  the 
state  of  deep  trade  depression  and  the  discontent  aroused  by  the 
tariff,  it  gave  new  strength  to  the  Liberal  demand  for  unrestricted 
reciprocity.  As  the  demand  rose,  in  1891,  another  election  had  to 
be  faced.  Macdonald  was  ready  to  make  it  the  fight  of  his  life. 

He  was  convinced  that  the  policy  of  unrestricted  reciprocity 
meant  not  only  the  end  of  his  cherished  national  plans  but  the  end 
of  the  Dominion  of  Canada  as  well;  since  it  would  tie  Canada  into 



the  United  States  so  completely  that  annexation  would  become 
only  a  matter  of  time.  And  so  Sir  John  at  the  age  of  seventy-six 
hurled  himself  into  a  campaign  for  'the  Old  Man.,  the  Old  Flag, 
the  Old  Policy/  This  was  more  than  just  an  effective  slogan,  or 
a  flag-waving  appeal  to  Canadian  loyalty.  It  covered  what  seemed 
to  be  the  main  question  to  Macdonald :  whether  Canada  should 
continue  as  a  united  British  dominion,  following  his  designs  for 
building  a  separate  nation  in  America,  or  accept  the  total  depend- 
ence of  the  various  sections  of  Canada  on  the  United  States,  with 
little  real  future  for  them  but  annexation. 

Certainly  Macdonald's  appeal  to  old  anti- American  sentiments 
and  British  loyalties  helped  to  win  him  the  election.  But  he  was 
also  appealing  to  the  struggling  spirit  of  Canadian  nationalism. 
And  it  is  worth  noting  that  the  former  Liberal  leader,  Edward 
Blake  agreed  with  him,  and  opposed  unrestricted  reciprocity  as 
dangerous  to  Canada.  Many  Liberals  also  agreed  with  Blake.  This 
split  in  Liberal  ranks,  as  well  as  the  power  of  Macdonald's  appeal, 
saved  the  election  for  the  Conservative  party,  despite  all  the  dis- 
content in  Canada.  As  a  result,  the  Liberal  party  not  long  after- 
*wards  abandoned  unrestricted  reciprocity.  Actually  it  had  been 
an  unreal  policy,  from  the  start.  For  all  Liberal  hopes,  the  United 
States  had  little  intention  of  lowering  its  tariff  wall  to  suit  Canada. 
It  would  have  done  small  good  to  establish  the  policy  in  the 
Dominion  when  the  republic  would  then  have  rejected  it. 

Yet  the  victor  of  1891  had  exhausted  himself.  Worn  out,  he  died 
shortly  after  this,  his  last  battle.  He  died  when  the  Dominion  he 
had  given  his  life  to  build  was  still  in  its  darkest  hours.  For  the 
last  twenty  years  he  had  almost  been  Canada  himself;  and  by  sheer 
will  as  well  as  skill  and  confidence  had  held  Confederation  to- 
gether. Yet  though  he  died  at  a  dark  moment,  and  five  more  years 
of  trouble  lay  ahead,  a  bright  dawning  would  follow,  when  the 
dreams  he  had  had  for  his  country  would  come  true,  and  his  bold 
national  policies  would  succeed  at  last.  And  so  passed  the  greatest 
of  the  men  who  made  modern  Canada;  a  man  accused  of  many 



faults,  of  political  trickery  and  lack  of  principles;  but  a  man  as  well 
of  kindness,  courage,  and  one  all-embracing  idea :  the  creation  of  a 
Canadian  nation, 

Macdonald  was  succeeded  by  four  Conservative  prime  ministers 
in  a  short  space  of  years.  Some  were  leaders  of  ability,  but  all 
were  lesser  men  who  had  to  face  the  great  problems  that  he  had 
only  just  been  able  to  deal  with.  Unrestricted  reciprocity  was 
dead,  and  the  most  angry  attacks  on  Conservative  national  policies 
had  been  quieted.  Sectionalism,  however,  was  very  much  alive; 
and  now  there  arose  a  burning  sectional  issue  that  wrenched 
Canada  apart  and  ended  in  pulling  the  Conservative  party  from 
office.  It  was  the  Manitoba  schools  question,  which  awoke  the 
whole  provincial  rights  movement, 

By  the  Manitoba  Act,  which  had  set  up  the  first  prairie  pro- 
vince in  1870,  French-speaking  inhabitants  of  Manitoba  were 
assured  of  their  own  Catholic  schools,  supported  by  the  govern- 
ment. But  since  that  date  the  original  French  community  that 
had  once  been  so  important  in  the  province  had  been  almost 
swamped  by  incoming  English-speaking  settlers,  mainly  from 
Ontario.  In  1890,  therefore,  the  largely  English-speaking  and 
Protestant  provincial  legislature  passed  an  act  that  established  a 
single,  state-supported,  non-sectarian  school  system  and  abolished 
Catholic  separate  schools.  The  Catholics  of  Manitoba,  English  as 
well  as  French,  now  felt  that  rights  guaranteed  to  them  in  the 
Manitoba  Act  had  been  ignored,  French  Catholic  Quebec  warmly 
agreed.  Ontario,  meanwhile,  was  being  swept  by  an  'Equal 
Rights',  ultra-Protestant  movement,  in  reaction  to  Mercier's 
strongly  pro-Catholic  policies  in  Quebec.  It  readily  supported 
the  abolition  of  separate  schools  in  Manitoba. 

The  terms  of  the  Manitoba  Act  had  provided  that  the  Dominion 
government  might  step  in  and  pass  a  Remedial  Bill  if  the  pro- 
vincial legislature  interfered  with  the  rights  of  a  religious  group  in 
the  field  of  education.  The  Manitoba  Roman  Catholics  now 
appealed  to  the  federal  government  to  pass  such  a  measure,  and 



the  ultramontanes  in  Quebec  fervently  echoed  their  demand.  It 
was  a  difficult  situation  for  the  Conservative  government,  and  the 
wisdom  of  Macdonald  was  gone.  Quebec  insisted  on  a  Remedial 
Bill;  Ontario  and  the  majority  in  Manitoba  were  opposed.  French 
and  English  members  of  the  Dominion  cabinet  themselves  were 
divided.  At  length  the  Conservatives  decided  to  bring  in  a 
Remedial  Bill,  although  this  was  wielding  the  Dominion's  sword 
of  authority  over  a  province  when  Macdonald  himself  might  have 
let  the  weapon  lie.  Before  the  Bill  could  be  passed  in  1896  it  was 
time  for  an  election.  The  election  naturally  emphasized  the  Mani- 
toba schools  question. 

While  Sir  Charles  Tupper,  the  Conservative  prime  minister, 
fought  the  election  on  the  grounds  of  the  Dominion's  right  to 
interfere  to  protect  a  religious  minority,  Laurier,  the  Liberal 
leader,  who  had  wisely  kept  silent  as  long  as  he  could,  came  out 
unexpectedly  in  defence  of  the  right  of  Manitoba  to  fix  its  own 
educational  system,  even  if  this  involved  doing  away  with  Catholic 
separate  schools.  It  was  a  daring  step.  Laurier,  the  French 
Canadian  Catholic,  was  opposing  the  clearly  expressed  will  of  the 
ultramontane  leaders  of  the  Roman  Catholic  Church  in  Quebec, 
who  had  ordered  their  followers  to  support  the  Remedial  Bill.  But 
was  it  unwise?  Laurier  had  taken  his  stand  squarely  on  the  well- 
established  Liberal  principle  of  provincial  rights :  the  Dominion 
should  not  interfere  in  education,  a  field  which  by  the  British 
North  America  Act  belonged  to  the  provinces.  Laurier  had  re- 
moved the  issue  from  the  hottest  sectional  grounds.  He  also  made 
clear  that,  while  a  faithful  Catholic,  he  was  not  ready  to  accept  the 
Church's  orders  in  political  matters.  On  this  stand  he  swept  the 
election  of  1896  for  the  Liberals. 

Protestant  Ontario,  where  the  Liberal  Mowat  ruled,  took  to 
Laurier's  doctrine  of  provincial  rights.  Provincial  feelings  across 
the  Dominion  supported  the  Liberals.  Yet  Laurier  still  needed 
seats  in  Quebec — which  surely  would  reject  him.  But  it  did  not: 
Quebec  would  not  lose  the  opportunity  to  make  a  French  Cana- 



dian  prime  minister.,  who  might  be  better  equipped  to  settle 
Catholic  rights  in  Manitoba.  In  this  French  Canada  undoubtedly 
went  against  the  judgment  of  its  Roman  Catholic  bishops.,  yet  it 
did  so  in  part  from  feelings  of  French  Canadian  nationalism.  And 
Laurier,  after  all,  was  still  a  Catholic,  who  shortly  afterwards 
secured  the  approval  of  the  Papacy  for  his  policy  in  Manitoba.  He 
also  managed  to  save  some  special  school  rights  for  Catholics  there, 
by  discussion,  as  he  had  hoped,  and  not  by  the  forceful  use  of 
Dominion  power. 

In  such  a  way  the  long  rule  of  Macdonald  Conservatism  came 
to  an  end  in  Canada.  It  might  seem  that  a  very  different  era  was 
about  to  begin  under  Liberals,  stressing  provincial  rights.  Yet 
Conservative  nationalism  was  played  out.  It  had  ended  in  a  new 
outburst  of  sectional  strife,  and  in  this  outburst  Macdonald's 
policy  of  making  strong  use  of  the  Dominion's  power  would  only 
have  increased  sectional  unrest.  Laurier's  policy  of  protecting  the 
provinces  was  necessary  to  calm  angry  feelings  and  reunite  the 
Dominion.  In  his  own  way  Laurier,  too,  was  a  nation-builder, 
one  who  had  other  tasks  than  Macdonald  to  accomplish  for 
Canada.  Above  all,  he  had  to  bring  the  two  peoples  hi  the  country 
together  through  policies  of  moderation,  tolerance,  and  co-opera- 

To  a  great  extent,  however,  Liberal  rule  under  Laurier  did  not 
begin  a  new  era  but  maintained  and  built  on  the  basic  national 
policies  of  Macdonald:  the  protective  tariff,  the  transcontinental 
railway,  and  the  opening  of  the  West.  Macdonald  nationalism 
had  not  failed.  It  was  the  age  that  had  failed,  the  long  lean  years 
of  depression.  For  the  final  summing  up  of  Macdonald  comes  to 
this :  he  had  shaped  the  new  federal  union,  rounded  out  its  bor- 
ders, built  its  Pacific  railway,  planned  its  economic  development. 
In  the  years  of  bitterness  he  had  still  held  his  Dominion  together 
and  saved  the  main  points  of  his  programme.  Whatever  successes 
came  after  his  death,  it  is  certain  that  Macdonald  had  not  failed 
during  his  own  lifetime. 



5    Macdonald  and  the  North  Atlantic  Triangle 

Macdonald  nationalism  was  not  taken  up  entirely  with  develop- 
ing the  Dominion  at  home.  It  was  also  concerned  with  advancing 
Canada's  place  in  the  world,  to  suit  the  new  importance  of  the 
continent-wide  union  that  had  replaced  the  separate  British  Ameri- 
can colonies.  As  Canada  looked  abroad,  two  countries  engaged 
her  attention  above  all:  Britain,  the  centre  of  empire,  and  the 
United  States,  the  great  neighbour  to  the  south.  Indeed,  all  three 
countries  were  closely  connected  with  each  other,  whether  they 
liked  it  or  not.  They  formed  what  has  well  been  called  the  'North 
Atlantic  Triangle/ And  Canada,  the  weakest  point  of  the  triangle, 
was  the  most  open  to  the  forces  that  flowed  around  it :  for  example, 
during  the  American  Civil  War,  the  clashes  between  Britain  and 
the  United  States  had  only  affected  those  nations  briefly,  yet  they 
did  much  to  shape  an  enduring  Confederation  for  Canada. 

Trouble  between  Britain  and  the  United  States  would  always 
spell  grave  danger  for  the  Dominion,  a  British  possession  exposed 
to  the  full  power  of  the  republic.  On  the  other  hand,  the  might  of 
Britain  put  weight  and  influence  behind  a  thinly  settled  Dominion 
striving  to  hold  vast  stretches  of  territory  next  door  to  the  thickly 
populated,  fast-expanding  American  union.  Without  the  British 
tie,  Canada  might  never  grow  to  be  a  nation.  It  might  cease  to 
exist,  fall  piecemeal  into  the  republic.  Macdonald  saw  these  things 
very  clearly  and  shaped  his  policies  accordingly. 

First  and  foremost  he  placed  the  necessity  of  maintaining  the 
British  tie,  in  order  to  preserve  a  separate  life  for  Canada  on  the 
North  American  continent.  If  this  was  imperialism,  it  was  nat- 
ionalism as  well.  And  as  long  as  this  first  principle  was  safe, 
Macdonald  was  ready  to  seek  changes  in  Canada's  relation  to 
Britain  in  order  to  make  her  less  a  colony  and  more  a  partner  in 
the  empire.  To  that  end  he  decided  to  place  a  minister  in  London 
to  represent  the  Dominion  in  the  imperial  capital  in  a  way  be- 
fitting its  new  size  and  dignity.  This  led  to  the  appointment  of  the 
first  Dominion  High  Commissioner  in  1879,  a  post  first  held  by 



Sir  Alexander  Gait  and  later  by  Sir  Charles  Tupper.  Although 
the  Liberals  under  Blake  and  Mackenzie  talked  more  of  widening 
the  scope  of  Canadian  nationality.,  in  actual  practice  Macdonald 
worked  much  as  they  did  in  this  direction. 

Accordingly  he  showed  little  interest  in  the  idea  of  uniting  the 
empire  through  an  overall  federal  system  of  government,  an  idea 
which  was  much  discussed  in  Britain  and  the  colonies  during  the 
i88o's  and  ?9o's.  There  were  ardent  supporters  of  imperial  federa- 
tion in  Canada,  but  the  lead  came  mainly  from  the  Mother 
Country.  In  Britain,  at  the  time,  interest  in  the  colonies  had 
revived  considerably  and  there  was  an  earnest  desire  to  make  the 
empire  stronger  and  more  effective  by  knitting  it  more  closely 
together.  Imperial  federation  was  only  one  plan  proposed  for  this 
purpose  by  the  rising  British  imperialists  of  the  late  nineteenth 
century.  The  revival  of  British  interest  in  empire  had  many  causes. 
For  example,  the  long  trade  depression  after  1873  made  colonial 
markets  seem  far  more  valuable  than  in  the  hopeful  flush  of  free 
trade  prosperity  at  the  middle  of  the  century.  New  dangers  of 
war,  linked  chiefly  with  the  rise  of  German  power  after  1870,  had 
underlined  the  need  for  uniting  the  strength  of  the  empire.  And 
there  had  been  a  reaction  in  Britain  against  the  old,  cold  policy  of 
waiting  for  the  colonies  to  leave  home — particularly  when  it  was 
realized  that  the  colonies  did  not  want  to  leave  after  all. 

On  this  last  fact,  however,  the  new  imperialists  built  too  much. 
If  the  colonies  did  not  want  to  break  away  from  Britain,  neither 
did  they  want  to  move  in  the  other  direction.  As  for  Canada,  on 
the  whole  she  had  no  desire  to  turn  back  on  the  path  towards  full 
self-government  within  the  empire,  on  which  she  had  been  moving 
since  the  time  of  Durham,  Baldwin,  and  Elgin.  Macdonald  there- 
fore took  no  step  towards  closer  imperial  unity,  despite  the  flatter- 
ing attentions  showered  on  the  colonies  at  the  first  Colonial  Con- 
ference, held  in  London  in  1887.  But  while  the  prime  minister 
politely  sidestepped  all  proposals  to  tighten  the  imperial  bond,  he 
equally  rejected  any  policy  which  he  thought  would  loosen  it. 



Thus  he  opposed  the  Liberals'  plan  of  unrestricted  reciprocity  on 
the  grounds  that  it  would  turn  Canada  from  Britain  to  the  United 
States,  and  fought  his  last  election  on  a  cry  well  designed  to  get 
votes  and  yet  deeply  meant:  CA  British  subject  I  was  born,  a 
British  subject  I  will  die.' 

Perhaps  the  value  of  the  British  tie  as  a  counterbalance  to  the 
United  States  was  most  evident  in  the  early  years  of  Macdonald's 
rule  over  the  Dominion.  Between  Confederation  and  the  Treaty 
of  Washington,  signed  in  1871.,  Canada  continued  to  watch  her 
American  neighbour  in  all  uneasiness.  The  United  States  felt  new 
yearnings  for  more  territory,  and  after  the  purchase  of  Alaska 
from  Russia,  in  1867,  Americans  talked  of  rounding  out  their  hold 
on  the  continent  to  the  north.  In  addition,  bad  feelings  between 
Britain  and  the  United  States  still  ran  high  in  the  years  after  the 
Civil  War,  and  the  republic  laid  heavy  claims  for  damage  done  by 
Southern  raiders,  notably  the  Alabama,  that  had  fitted  out  in 
British  ports.  These  'Alabama9  claims,  the  United  States  sug- 
gested, might  be  met  if  Britain  withdrew  from  North  America 
completely,  leaving  her  northern  colonies  free  to  join  the  American 
union.  And,  in  fact,  it  could  be  said  that  so  far  the  republic  had 
hardly  recognized  that  there  was  a  new  Dominion  of  Canada  occu- 
pying the  northern  half  of  the  continent. 

In  these  circumstances  the  value  of  the  British  tie  as  a  security 
to  Canada  seemed  only  too  plain  to  Macdonald.  The  United 
States,  however,  did  not  seek  to  press  further  for  northern  expan- 
sion once  it  realized  that  Britain  would  not  yield,  sell,  or  trade 
British  North  America.  Accordingly  it  was  finally  agreed  that 
British  and  American  representatives  should  meet  in  Washington 
in  1871  to  discuss  all  the  questions  that  had  arisen  out  of  the  Civil 
War.  Sir  John  Macdonald  was  to  attend  as  a  member  of  the 
British  delegation  in  order  to  represent  Canada's  interests. 

The  Treaty  of  Washington  that  emerged  from  the  discussions 
to  a  great  extent  did  settle  the  outstanding  questions,  and  brought 
to  an  end  the  period  of  strain  with  the  United  States.  Yet  in  many 



ways  Canadian  interests  were  set  aside,  thanks  to  the  British  desire 
to  win  good  relations  with  the  Americans  and  the  American  inten- 
tion of  making  the  wooing  expensive.  As  a  single  member  of  the 
British  delegation  there  was  little  Macdonald  could  do.  Thus 
Canada's  claims  for  damage  due  to  the  Fenian  raids  were  not  dis- 
cussed. The  Americans  were  granted  free  navigation  of  the  St 
Lawrence  and  the  Atlantic  fisheries  of  each  country  were  opened 
to  the  other  for  ten  years.  Canada  had  no  opportunity  to  bargain 
again  for  reciprocity  with  her  more  valuable  fishing  grounds,  al- 
though five  and  a  half  million  dollars  was  later  awarded  to  her  for 
their  use  by  the  United  States.  Macdonald  was  attacked  over  the 
Treaty  on  his  return  to  Ottawa ;  but  he  had  simply  had  to  pay  the 
price  for  Canada's  being  a  colony. 

And  yet  this  price  was  also  connected  with  Canada's  position 
as  the  weakest  member  of  the  North  Atlantic  mangle.  If  the  good 
relations  with  the  United  States  that  Britain  sought  had  not  been 
won,  Canada  stood  to  suffer  most  of  all.  By  herself,  moreover,  she 
would  have  had  small  chance,  in  1871,  of  making  a  bargain  with 
the  republic.  Again  the  security  of  the  tie  with  Britain  was  the 
most  important  concern  for  Canada,  and  for  this  Macdonald 
accepted  the  losses  involved.  Besides,  the  Treaty  of  Washington 
really  brought  to  a  close  the  long-felt  American  pressure  on  the 
Canadian  lands  to  the  north,  for  by  the  Treaty  the  United  States 
recognized  that  the  Dominion  had  made  good  its  claim  to  the 
northern  half  of  the  continent.  Gradually  thereafter  the  unfriendly 
feeling  between  the  two  neighbours  disappeared.  The  term,  cthe. 
undefended  boundary*,  came  to  have  real  meaning.  The  period  of 
true  peace  between  Canada  and  the  United  States  properly  goes 
back  to  the  Treaty  of  Washington  of  1871. 

As  a  result,  Macdonald's  later  years  in  office  saw  no  major 
problems  in  relations  with  the  United  States,  although  the  fishery 
question  re-emerged.  And  while  the  unrestricted  reciprocity  cam- 
paign revived  charges  that  the  Americans  looked  to  reciprocity  to 
bring  about  the  peaceful  annexation  of  Canac^,  on  the  whole  it 



seems  that  the  United  States  at  that  time  was  not  much  interested 
in  Canadian  proposals  for  reciprocity  or  anything  else.  Conse- 
quently, when  Macdonald  Conservatism  finished  its  course  in 
1896,  it  left  Canada  on  good  terms  with  the  republic  and  on  close 
terms  with  Britain:  secure  in  her  separate  place  within  the  North 
Atlantic  triangle  and  still  advancing  towards  nationhood. 

Nationhood  involves  duties  as  well  as  privileges,  responsibilities 
as  well  as  rights.  During  this  first  age  of  the  Dominion,  that  closed 
in  1896,  Canada  began  to  assume  one  of  the  basic  duties  of  a 
nation:  that  of  defending  itself.  In  1871  the  last  British  troops 
were  withdrawn  from  Canada,  except  for  a  garrison  at  Halifax, 
which  was  still  the  Royal  Navy's  main  north-west  Atlantic  base. 
The  Dominion  took  over  the  task  of  its  defence  by  land,  though 
naval  defence  was  still  an  imperial  responsibility.  And  so  it  was 
that  while  in  1870  British  regulars  as  well  as  Canadian  militia 
marched  west  to  the  first  Riel  rising,  in  1885  Canadian  troops 
alone  put  down  the  second  rebellion.  Only  a  few  years  after  1896, 
during  the  South  African  War,  Canada  would  even  send  armed 
forces  overseas.  This  was  clearly  a  sign  of  the  growing  stature  of 
the  Dominion,  the  result  in  part,  of  long  years  under  the  sway  of 
Macdonald  nationalism. 




I    Immigration  and  Western  Settlement 

The  year  1896  not  only  saw  Laurier  and  the  Liberals  take  office 
in  Canada.  It  witnessed  the  revival  of  world  trade  and  the  return 
of  prosperity  to  the  Dominion.  In  fact,  Canada  embarked  on  the 
greatest  boom  it  had  yet  known.  A  new  tide  of  immigration  set  in, 
the  West  was  rapidly  occupied,  and  all  parts  of  the  country 
flourished.  Laurier  and  the  Liberals,  who  were  fortunate  to  be  in 
office  during  the  boom,  fell  from  power  in  1911,  yet  the  good 
times  continued  almost  up  to  the  outbreak  of  the  First  World  War 
in  1914.  By  that  date,  the  outlines  of  the  Dominion  had  been 
filled  in,  and  a  prosperous  Canada  had  developed  a  new,  confident 
national  spirit.  It  was  a  mark  of  the  national  confidence  that 
Laurier  could  say,  'The  nineteenth  century  was  the  century  of  the 
United  States,  the  twentieth  century  will  be  the  century  of 

The  basic  achievement  of  the  new  era,  on  which  the  rest  of  the 
national  advance  depended,  was  the  settlement  of  the  West.  And 
here  the  prime  reason  for  the  success  of  the  Laurier  government 
was  the  recovery  of  world  trade.  As  the  factories  of  Britain  and 
western  Europe  throbbed  in  quickening  pace,  their  crowded  in- 
dustrial towns  demanded  new  supplies  of  foodstuffs  from  the  soil 
of  North  America,  The  demand  for  food  rose  constantly,  yet  the 
good  western  lands  of  the  United  States  had  by  now  been  occupied 
and  what  remained  was  of  far  less  agricultural  value.  Only  in 
the  last,  best  West'  of  Canada  was  there  a  great  reserve  of  fertile 
soil  whose  crops  could  feed  the  factory  population  of  Europe. 
Now  at  last  there  was  good  reason  to  settle  the  Canadian  West. 
Settlers  flocked  to  the  empty  prairies,  from  Britain,  from  the 


LAURIER  AND   CANADA'S   CENTURY.,    1896-1914 

United  States,  from  continental  Europe.  Year  by  year  the  rustling 
wheatfields  reached  further  into  the  western  grasslands,  year  by 
year  the  crops  poured  eastward  through  the  narrow  funnel  of  the 
Canadian  Pacific,  and  yet  the  demand  for  grain  continued  to  grow. 

There  were  other  developments  which  aided  the  settlement  of 
the  Canadian  West.  The  filling  up  of  the  American  plains  before 
1900  turned  the  whole  western  frontier  movement  northward  into 
Canada.  Once  before,  in  the  years  between  the  conquest  of  1760 
and  the  War  of  1812,  the  frontier  in  its  march  across  the  North 
American  continent  had  swung  into  Canada.  In  that  day,  New 
Englanders,  Loyalists,  and  American  frontiersmen  had  done  much 
to  occupy  the  eastern  lands  of  British  America.  In  later  years, 
although  large  numbers  of  settlers  had  come  to  the  colonies  from 
Britain,  the  main  movement  of  the  North  American  frontier  had 
been  westward  across  the  United  States.  After  1850  there  had 
been  little  frontier  advance  in  Canada  at  all.  But  around  the  turn 
of  the  twentieth  century,  the  Canadian  frontier  came  into  its  own 
again,  and  by  the  time  the  movement  had  run  its  course  the 
western  half  of  the  Dominion  had  been  peopled. 

Another  factor  in  successful  settlement  was  the  improvement  in 
farming  methods  and  the  development  of  new  strains  of  wheat. 
The  prairies  were  lands  of  fairly  low  rainfall.  They  required  a 
system  of  'dry'  fanning,  and  this  by  now  had  been  worked  out  in 
the  equally  dry  American  plains.  The  system  demanded  farms  of 
large  size,  but  the  development  of  agricultural  machinery  by  this 
time  made  it  possible  to  work  large  farms  effectively.  And  if  the 
problems  of  low  rainfall  and  early  frost  could  be  overcome,  no 
finer  land  for  grain  crops  could  be  found  anywhere  than  in  the 
Canadian  West.  As  for  the  question  of  frost,  the  answer  lay  in  the 
new  strains  of  wheat.  High-yielding,  quick-maturing  varieties 
were  developed.  Once  they  were  tested,  it  became  possible  to  grow 
grain  in  a  shorter  season,  with  the  result  that  the  wheat  lands  could 
push  further  and  further  towards  the  north.  The  greatest  triumph, 
Marquis  wheat,  came  in  1908,  when  the  western  boom  was  at  its 



height.  Its  development  by  Charles  Saunders,  a  botanist  in  the 
service  of  the  Canadian  government,  is  one  of  the  most  fascinating 
and  significant  stories  in  Canadian  history.  Maturing  in  under  a 
hundred  days,  bountiful  Marquis  added  thousands  of  northern 
acres  to  Canada's  wheat  lands.  In  recent  years  still  other  kinds  of 
wheat  have  advanced  the  western  fanning  frontier  far  north  to  the 
Peace  river  country,  where  grain  has  been  produced  that  has  won 
the  world  wheat  championship. 

Government  policies  also  had  their  share  in  tfib  successful 
opening  of  the  West.  In  many  ways  they  merely  continued  on 
lines  laid  down  under  Macdonald,  but  they  were  ably  administered 
by  the  Laurier  government.  Clifford  Sifton,  the  Minister  of  the 
Interior  in  charge  of  western  settlement,  brought  driving  energy 
and  enthusiasm  to  his  task.  He  organized  vigorous  publicity  cam- 
paigns in  Britain,  the  United  States  and  Europe  to  attract  immi- 
grants to  the  Canadian  West  and  stationed  immigration  agents 
widely  in  all  three.  He  arranged  train  tours  of  the  prairies  so  that 
selected  Canadian  and  American  farmers  and  newspaper  men 
could  see  for  themselves  the  value  of  the  soil.  The  Dominion's 
land  policy,  carried  over  from  the  previous  period,  made  farms 
easily  available.  The  prairies  were  surveyed  in  numbered  square 
sections  of  640  acres  each.  In  the  odd-numbered  sections  the 
Dominion  sold  the  land  at  moderate  prices  to  raise  a  revenue. 
These  sections  also  contained  the  lands  granted  to  the  Canadian 
Pacific,  and  other  types  of  grant,  which  were  sold  in  the  same  way. 
In  the  even-numbered  sections  farms  could  be  obtained  free,  as 
homesteads,  if  the  homesteader  fulfilled  certain  conditions  of 
developing  his  'quarter  section'  of  160  acres.   So  great  was  the 
demand  for  farms  that  both  homestead  and  purchased  land  were 
readily  taken  up.  And  the  Canadian  Pacific,  the  Hudson's  Bay 
Company,  and  other  interests  which  held  grants  soon  saw  that  it 
paid  to  sell  their  land  cheaply  in  order  to  develop  the  West,  in- 
crease its  railway  traffic,  and  gain  from  the  general  prosperity.  In 
fact,  the  government  at  length  decided  that  it  was  worth  while  to 



give  the  rest  of  its  western  lands  away  to  keep  up  the  flow  of 
settlement.  In  1908  it  opened  what  was  left  of  the  odd-numbered 
sections  to  free  homesteading. 

Thanks  to  all  these  circumstances,  Canada  was  swept  by  the 
greatest  wave  of  immigration  in  her  history.  Between  1896  and 
the  First  World  War,  about  two-and-a-half  million  people  entered 
the  Dominion.  Well  over  half  a  million  came  from  continental 
Europe,  more  than  three-quarters  of  a  million  from  the  United 
States  and  close  to  a  million  from  the  British  Isles.  During  the 
height  of  the  movement,  between  1901  and  1911,  the  population 
jumped  from  five  to  seven  millions,  an  increase  of  over  one-third. 
But  the  change  in  the  size  of  the  population  was  no  more  striking 
than  the  change  in  its  composition.  While  the  new  immigrants 
were  English-speaking  in  the  great  majority,  a  sizeable  number 
were  from  Germany  and  Scandinavia,  from  Russia,  Poland,  and 
the  Ukraine,  from  Austria  and  Italy.  Canada  for  the  first  time 
became  what  the  United  States  long  had  been,  a  melting-pot  of 
peoples.  Canada  was  still  much  less  a  melting  pot  than  the  repub- 
lic, and  the  British  and  French  stocks  continued  to  dominate.  But 
whereas  persons  of  other  than  British  or  French  origin  had  formed 
only  a  tiny  part  of  the  Canadian  population  at  Confederation,  by 
the  First  World  War  they  formed  almost  one-fifth  of  it. 

On  the  whole  these  European  immigrants  were  gradually  ab- 
sorbed into  the  two  older  Canadian  peoples,  though  mostly  into 
the  English-speaking  majority.  Group  settlements  of  foreign-born 
in  the  West,  particularly  if  they  were  religious  groups,  proved  the 
most  difficult  to  absorb.  The  Doukhobors,  a  small  but  earnestly 
religious  sect  from  Russia,  provide  an  obvious  example  here,  since 
an  extremist  minority  among  them,  which  has  settled  in  British 
Columbia,  has  even  found  it  hard  to  fit  its  religious  ideas  to  the 
accepted  laws  and  customs  of  the  Canadian  people.  Yet  the  mass 
of  the  foreign-born  came  to  think  of  themselves  simply  as  Cam- 
dians,  while  they  added  colour  and  variety  to  the  Canadian  per- 
sonality and  new  arts  and  crafts  to  Canada's  culture. 



At  the  same  time,  the  largest  group  of  immigrants  gave  Canada 
a  new  infusion  of  British  stock,  while  the  next  largest  set  of 
arrivals,  from  the  United  States  (about  half  of  them  returning 
Canadians),  supplied  farmers  already  trained  in  North  American 
agriculture.  These  were  of  particular  value  in  bringing  the  West 
under  cultivation.  Not  all  the  immigrants  went  west  by  any 
means.  Many  of  them  settled  in  the  now  thriving  eastern  towns 
or  entered  into  new  northern  mining  and  lumbering  develop- 
ments. Altogether,  about  a  million  new  inhabitants  went  to  the 
prairies  and  British  Columbia  in  the  peak  period,  1901  to  1911. 
Probably  the  majority  were  Canadians  and  Americans,  and  the 
rest  British  and  continental  Europeans  in  about  equal  numbers. 
The  Barr  'colony',  for  instance,  at  Lloydminster,  Saskatchewan, 
was  a  strikingly  successful  example  of  a  British  community  settle- 

With  the  inrush  of  settlement  the  West  advanced  rapidly.  Rail- 
way lines  branched  out,  roads  were  built,  and  towns  sprang  up. 
Regina  and  Saskatoon,  Calgary  and  Edmonton  mushroomed  out 
of  trading  posts  and  board  shanties.  The  first  sod  huts  of  settlers 
— the  open  prairies  did  not  supply  wood  for  log  cabins — were  soon 
replaced  by  frame  dwellings,  planks  for  which  were  shipped  in  by 
railway.  The  red-brown  grain  elevators  began  to  dot  the  plains, 
and  on  every  side  there  was  a  sea  of  grain,  trembling  in  soft  green 
shoots  in  the  spring  rains  and  tumbling  in  golden  waves  under 
the  hot,  blue  summer  sky.  The  plains  turned  almost  overnight 
from  the  wilderness  life  of  trapping  and  hunting  to  the  complex 
business  of  raising  a  crop  for  the  world  market,  with  every  aid  of 
science  and  machinery.  There  was  really  no  stage  in  between,  of 
pioneer  farming  for  bare  existence,  as  in  eastern  Canada. 

From  the  first  the  western  settler  was  a  business  man,  producing 
for  a  cash  sale  and  buying  his  needs,  even  some  of  his  food,  from 
the  world  outside.  He  was  supplied  by  the  same  railways  that 
carried  his  product  on  its  way  to  markets  half-way  around  the 
globe.  And  although  the  size  of  western  farms  scattered  settlers 



|(i)  CANADA,  1873  [: 

Dates  given  are  of  these  provinces 
entrance  in  Confederation.  '• 

|(iii)  CANADA,  1905| 


CHEWAN i  . .      ./    t"         ^ 








i«?^       TERRITORIES !  p< 
EH)     %^>,%  |* 

S?  '  *£?          I  3 

Dates  given  are  of  the  northward 
n  of  the  boundaries  of  these 

provinces,  except  for  Newfound. 
land's  date  of  entrance  into  tte 

k.    J1912)%\<1912>    7 'M^JQVA  SCOTIA 
*^Ur^L_X--V-'    &      '  — 



far  apart,  their  life  was  not  the  solitary  one  of  the  eastern  pioneers. 
There  was  no  barrier  of  thick  forest;  roads  and  railways  kept  far- 
mers in  touch  with  the  outside;  and  from  the  start  they  organized 
in  groups,  whether  for  social  reasons,  or  to  market  their  grain 
more  effectively,  or  to  bring  pressure  to  bear  in  politics  for  a  new 
road  or  a  branch-line  railway. 

The  rapid  rise  of  the  West  led  also  to  changes  in  the  field  of 
government.  Even  before  the  great  boom,  gradual  western  growth 
had  caused  the  governor-and-council  system  set  up  for  the  North 
West  Territories  in  1875  to  be  replaced  by  representative  govern- 
ment in  1888,  and  by  responsible  government  in  1897.  Bu*  now 
the  rapid  rise  in  the  population  called  two  more  provinces  into 
being.  In  1905  Alberta  and  Saskatchewan  were  carved  out  of  the 
North  West  Territories  as  two  new  members  of  Confederation. 

A  few  years  later  the  North  West  Territories  were  further  re- 
duced when  the  boundaries  of  Quebec  and  Ontario  were  extended 
northward.  The  discovery  of  the  Klondike  gold-fields  on  the 
Yukon  River  in  the  far  north-west  also  led  to  the  creation  of  a 
separate  Yukon  Territory,  when  miners  raced  north  in  the  dram- 
atic gold-rush  of  1898-1903,  so  colourfully  set  forth  in  the  writings 
of  Robert  Service.  Klondike  gold  also  helped  western  growth  by 
making  the  sub-Arctic  west  important  for  the  first  time.  But  in 
a  few  years  the  Yukon  fields  passed  their  prime,  and  the  Terri- 
tory's population  declined.  And  the  remaining  North  West  Ter- 
ritories, still  a  tremendous  empire,  continued  almost  empty  except 
for  the  Indian  fur  trapper,  the  Hudson's  Bay  factor  and  the 

At  the  same  time,  however,  Alberta  and  Saskatchewan  came 
quickly  out  of  childhood.  Public  education  was  made  province- 
wide,  thanks  to  the  system  of  'school  lands'  which  were  sold  to 
support  it.  Provincial  universities  were  founded.  They  also  flour- 
ished in  Manitoba  and  British  Columbia,  which  shared  greatly  in 
the  boom.  Yet  the  western  boom  and  western  settlement  were  not 
the  only  striking  developments  of  this  remarkable  age.  There  were 



others,  all  across  Canada,  all  of  them  closely  linked  together,  and 
tied  as  well  to  the  triumph  in  the  West. 

2    The  Success  of  the  National  Policy 

The  western  growth  was  so  sudden  that  it  strained  the  existing 
Canadian  railway  system.  The  Canadian  Pacific  was  jammed  with 
traffic  at  its  Winnipeg  bottleneck  each  year  as  the  crops  moved  out. 
A  new  transcontinental  line  seemed  necessary.  In  1903,  when  the 
Liberal  government  announced  its  whole-hearted  readiness  to 
support  vigorous  railway-building,  two  powerful  railway  groups 
were  eager  to  go  ahead.  The  Grand  Trunk  was  prosperous  at  last 
and  was  dreaming  again  of  extension  to  the  Pacific.  The  western 
railway  promoters,  Mackenzie  and  Mann,  who  had  strung  a  num- 
ber of  small  lines  together,  were  hoping  to  make  theirs  a  trans- 
continental railway  system.  The  obvious  plan,  since  Mackenzie 
and  Mann  wanted  to  extend  to  the  east  and  the  Grand  Trunk  to 
the  west,  would  have  been  for  the  two  groups  to  join  hands.  But 
neither  wanted  to  give  up  their  own  scheme  for  a  transcontinental 
railway.  And  so  strong  was  the  confident  mood  of  the  time  that 
they  believed  there  was  room  for  two  new  great  railways  in 
Canada.  The  government  and  the  people  believed  it  too. 

Hence  Mackenzie  and  Mann  built  their  Canadian  Northern 
into  a  transcontinental  railway,  while  the  Grand  Trunk  laid  the 
Grand  Trunk  Pacific  across  the  West.  In  addition,  the  govern- 
ment undertook  to  construct  a  new  eastern  route  of  its  own,  the 
National  Transcontinental,  which  was  to  be  leased  to  the  Grand 
Trunk.  This  trunk  line  stretched  east  from  Winnipeg,  reaching 
high4  across  Ontario  and  Quebec,  to  open  up  their  northern  regions 
and  provide  a  main  track  direct  to  Quebec  City.  From  here  it  ran 
down  through  the  Maritimes  by  a  shorter  route  than  the  old 
Intercolonial,  yet  stayed  wholly  in  Canada,  as  the  Canadian 
Pacific's  'Short  Line'  to  Saint  John  did  not. 

The  new  age  of  railway-building  bound  all  the  regions  of  Canada 
together  in  a  far  stronger  web  of  steel.  It  linked  the  Pacific  coast, 



where  the  northern  port  of  Prince  Rupert  was  now  opened, 
through  several  more  mountain  passes  to  the  rest  of  Canada;  it 
crossed  the  barrier  of  the  Shield  with  two  new  trunk  lines,  and 
joined  central  Canada  more  effectively  with  ice-free  Maritime 
harbours.  Yet  the  happy  belief  that  all  these  tracks  would  pay 
was  only  the  over-confidence  of  boom  times.  Canada's  railways 
were  gravely  overbuilt.  Through  the  Shield  in  particular,  com- 
peting lines  often  ran  side  by  side  for  miles  through  a  country 
that  could  not  supply  traffic  enough  for  one.  And  because  the  new 
railways  had  been  constructed  in  a  flush  of  prosperity,  when  prices 
were  high,  they  had  to  carry  an  extremely  heavy  burden  of  costs. 
Very  early,  therefore,  they  began  to  collapse  under  their  load  of 
debt,  even  before  boom  conditions  had  fully  disappeared. 

As  a  result,  by  the  end  of  the  First  World  War  the  Dominion 
government  had  been  forced  to  take  over  the  bankrupt  Canadian 
Northern  and  Grand  Trunk.  They  were  combined  with  the  gov- 
ernment's Intercolonial  and  National  Transcontinental  to  form 
the  Canadian  National  Railways,  a  state-owned  rival  of  the  Cana- 
dian Pacific,  which  successfully  survived  as  a  private  company, 
thanks  to  the  much  sounder  state  of  its  finances.  The  Canadian 
National  continued  to  run  into  difficulties  in  later  years,  largely 
because  of  the  heavy  load  of  debt  it  had  inherited  from  its  bank- 
rupt parents.  Within  the  Laurier  era,  however,  the  building  of 
railways  added  greatly  to  national  prosperity.  Their  construction 
offered  employment  to  many  immigrants.  It  made  mighty  de- 
mands on  Canadian  industry  and  lumbering  for  materials,  and  the 
new  lines  across  the  Shield  uncovered  hidden  mineral  riches.  In 
this  northern  realm  a  new  Canada  began  to  develop,  once  the 
railways  had  opened  the  door  to  its  resources.  In  northern  On- 
tario, in  particular,  a  mining  boom  was  under  way,  as  gold,  silver, 
copper,  and  nickel  mines  were  brought  into  production.  The  soft- 
wood forests  of  the  Shield  started  supplying  wood-pulp  for  hungry 
mills  that  made  the  world's  newspapers.  And  the  Shield,  that  had 
been  a  dividing  waste  land  but  was  now  emerging  as  Canada's 



treasure-house,  was  promising  to  become  a  power-house  as  well. 
The  new  century  had  brought  the  age  of  electricity  made  from 
water-power;  the  many  rivers  of  the  Shield  could  readily  be  har- 
nessed. Hydro-electric  power  was  also  being  developed  outside 
the  Shield,  at  Niagara  Falls,,  for  instance.  This  new  source  of  vital 
energy  was  of  great  significance  to  the  booming  factories  of  central 
Canada,  which  had  been  compelled  to  bring  in  coal  to  furnish 
them  with  steam  power. 

Despite  these  important  developments,  the  most  significant 
feature  of  the  new  age  of  prosperity  was  the  growth  of  trade  from 
east  to  west,  carried  across  the  continent  by  the  railways.  As  west- 
ern settlement  advanced  and  western  grain  production  mounted, 
the  east-west  trading  system  of  Canada  began  to  flourish  as  never 
before.  While  wheat  moved  east  to  Atlantic  ports,  farm  machinery 
and  manufactures  went  west  from  eastern  factories.  The  St  Law- 
rence interests  of  Montreal  controlled  a  golden  commercial  empire 
beyond  the  dreams  of  the  days  of  the  fur  canoe  or  the  canal  era. 
Winnipeg  grew  as  Montreal's  outpost,  gathering  in  the  western 
trade.  Toronto  competed  with  Montreal  to  some  extent,  but 
thrived  on  the  east-west  commerce  as  the  heart  of  a  large  industrial 
region.  The  outlying  sections  and  their  cities  also  gained  from  the 
growth  of  east-west  trade.  Vancouver  benefited  as  the  Pacific  out- 
let of  the  continent-wide  system,  and  British  Columbia  supplied 
the  prairies  with  fish,  lumber,  fruit,  and  minerals.  The  Maritimes 
advanced  less,  but  were  aided  by  the  development  of  Saint  John 
and  Halifax  as  the  winter  ports  of  east-west  commerce. 

More  than  this,  Canada's  trade  relations  with  Britain  grew 
closer,  for  Britain  became  her  best  customer  for  western  grain; 
the  east-west  system  really  ended  on  the  other  side  of  the  Atlantic. 
As  a  result,  an  enduring  pattern  of  trade  developed,  whereby 
Canada  sold  the  bulk  of  her  farm  exports  hi  the  British  market, 
and  these  soon  included  meat,  dairy  products,  and  fruit  as  well  as 
wheat.  Yet  grain  remained  the  staple  export  of  the  east-west 
trading  system.  Canada's  old  staple  of  fur  had  long  since  lost  its 


LAURIER  AND   CANADA'S   CENTURY,    1896-1914 

importance  and  the  cutting  over  of  eastern  forests  had  affected 
the  export  of  lumber.  Sawn  lumber  still  went  in  great  quantities 
to  the  United  States,  but  the  old  square  timber  trade  with  Britain 
disappeared  about  1 900.  And  then  came  western  grain  to  strengthen 
or  rather  transform,  the  trading  ties  with  Britain.  Although  Canada 
continued  to  sell  many  products  to  the  United  States  and  to  buy 
from  there  rather  more  than  she  sold,  she  balanced  her  books  by 
the  sales  to  Britain.  A  new  period  of  heavy  British  investment  in 
Canada  during  the  Laurier  boom  also  strengthened  trans-Atlantic 
commercial  ties. 

The  rise  of  east-west  trade  had  another  powerful  consequence. 
It  spelt  success  at  long  last  for  the  National  Policy  of  Mac- 
donald,  which  the  Liberals  now  took  over  as  their  own.  The 
National  Policy  of  protection  was  firmly  fixed  on  Canada  from 
then  on,  since  both  major  parties  had  accepted  it.  The  Liberals 
might  still  talk  more  of  lower  tariff  rates  and  work  to  reduce  some 
of  them,  but  they  had  really  dropped  any  intention  of  interfering 
with  the  basic  policy  of  a  protective  tariff. 

The  Liberal  conversion  became  clear  almost  at  the  start  of  the 
Laurier  government's  career.  Its  first  tariff,  that  of  1897,  did  not 
really  alter  the  protective  system,  and  left  out  the  offer  of  reciproc- 
ity with  the  United  States  which  had  long  been  included  in  the 
various  Canadian  tariffs.  Laurier,  indeed,  announced  that  there 
would  be  'no  more  pilgrimages  to  Washington5  to  seek  reciprocity 
from  the  United  States.  This  changed  Liberal  attitude  was  in  part 
an  expression  of  the  new  national  confidence  caused  by  the  age  of 
prosperity.  Yet  the  Liberal  conversion  had  deeper  roots.  The  party 
had  altered  its  character.  No  longer  was  it  based  chiefly  on  the 
farm  vote  and  opposed  to  a  Conservative  party  supported  by  big 
business.  Though  the  Liberals  had  still  kept  most  of  their  farm 
support,  they  had  gradually  built  up  a  powerful  backing  of  rail- 
way, banking,  and  industrial  interests.  As  the  party  in  power 
during  the  boom,  they  attracted  an  even  larger  business  following, 
and  served  it  well  enough  with  their  policies  of  railway-building, 



tariff  protection  and  lavish  government  expenditure — shades  of 
Macdonald  Conservatism!  In  fact,  there  was  not  much  difference 
now  between  the  two  great  Canadian  parties.  In  this  era  of  boom, 
free  trade  and  government  economy  were  forgotten.  The  Liberals 
had  simply  adopted  most  of  Macdonald's  expensive  nation- 
building  policies,  and  had  generally  succeeded  with  them. 

The  reason  why  the  Liberals  succeeded  where  the  Conserva- 
tives had  failed,  is  not  hard  to  see.  Macdonald's  national  plans 
had  required  a  Pacific  railway  and  western  settlement  as  well  as 
the  protective  tariff.  In  the  long  depression,  the  failure  of  western 
settlement  had  meant  that  the  railway  had  been  half  used  and  the 
tariff  had  but  partly  served  its  purpose.  But  now  the  life-blood 
of  settlement  and  east-west  trade  coursed  through  the  system 
Macdonald  had  moulded.  The  railways,  vastly  extended  under 
the  Liberals,  carried  both  the  settlers  and  their  crops;  the  indus- 
tries that  had  been  built  up  behind  the  tariff  found  ample  western 
markets:  and  the  West  fed  the  East  and  the  world  overseas.  The 
purposes  of  the  national  policy  had  been  achieved.  Canada  at  last 
had  a  balanced  economic  system,  a  unity  based  on  trade. 

The  balance  was  still  far  from  perfect.  The  success  of  the  system 
depended  greatly  on  good  times  and  a  healthy  world  market.  The 
west  would  soon  complain  that  it  carried  the  larger  share  of  the 
tariff  burden  and  railway  charges  for  the  benefit  of  eastern  indus- 
try. In  years  to  come  there  would  be  repeated  protests  against  the 
tariff  and  railway  costs  in  both  the  West  and  the  Maritimes.  Yet 
the  uneven  burden  of  the  tariff  could  be  offset  by  the  practical,  if 
not  always  admirable,  policy  of  increasing  subsidies  for  the  prov- 
inces that  complained.  And  the  Dominion  government  could  work 
to  modify  objectionable  railway  rates,  as,  for  instance,  in  the 
Crowsnest  Pass  agreement  of  1897,  wherein  the  Dominion  gave 
aid  to  the  Canadian  Pacific's  new  Crowsnest  Pass  line  in  return 
for  a  lowering  of  rates  between  the  West  and  central  Canada. 

In  general,  complex,  uneven  and  expensive  as  it  might  be,  the 
national  policy  succeeded  during  Laurier's  day  in  making  Canada 



more  than  just  a  collection  of  governments  or  a  name  on  the  map. 
It  was,  in  a  sense,  another  response  to  the  challenge  of  the  land, 
to  the  forces  that  divided  the  country  into  separate  regions. 
Though  the  policy  of  protection  helped  to  build  up  powerful 
and  privileged  business  interests*  the  majority  of  Canadians  accep- 
ted its  costs  and  its  faults  as  part  of  the  price  of  successfully  main- 
taining their  separate  existence  in  North  America :  as  part  of  the 
price  they  paid  for  their  geography. 

3    Nationalism  and  Imperialism 

With  the  prosperity  of  the  Laurier  era  and  the  success  of  the 
national  policy,  sectional  strife  dwindled  away  in  Canada,  and 
unity  and  nationalism  again  became  the  order  of  the  day.  ^Fhe 
feeling  of  harmony  was  widespread,  though  not  complete.  There 
were  still  mutterings  of  the  racial  storm  between  Ontario  and 
Quebec,  and  in  the  latter  province  the  purely  French-Canadian 
kind  of  nationalism  was  soon  to  rise  in  an  angry  new  outburst. 
Yet  for  the  time  the  dominant  mood  was  one  of  national  pride,  a 
belief  that  Canada  was  at  last  coming  into  her  own  in  the  world, 
and  that  all  Canadians  could  stand  together  to  see  their  country 
receive  the  greater  recognition  which  she  now  deserved.  Laurier 
himself  was  a  living  symbol  of  this  nationalism,  stressing  as  he  did 
that  Canadians  should  think  neither  of  English  Canada  nor  of 
French,  but  of  Canada  as  a  whole. 

The  feeling  of  nationalism  was  clearly  evident  in  literature;  foi 
example,  in  the  writing  of  history;  for  during  this  period  the  first 
large-scale  studies  of  the  Canadian  past  were  undertaken  as  group 
projects.  It  appeared  in  poetry,  where  the  chief  representatives 
of  the  golden  age  of  the  'nineties — Roberts,  Carman,  Duncan 
Scott— were  striving  still  in  the  new  century  to  set  forth  the 
scenes  and  spirit  of  Canada,  as  were  Wilfred  Campbell  and  many 
others.  And  by  1914  young  artists  were  emerging— later,  notably, 
the  Group  of  Seven — who  viewed  Canada  through  Canadian  eyes, 
and  no  longer  approached  the  rocks,  sweeps,  and  storms  of  their 



northern  landscape  with  the  painting  styles  developed  in  the 
milder  countrysides  of  Europe.  In  every  way  Canadians  were 
growing  more  self-conscious,  more  eager  to  assert  themselves. 

In  this  new  mood,  under  Laurier,  Canada  looked  to  the  world 
outside.  As  yet  she  had  little  contact  with  countries  other  than 
the  United  States  and  Britain,  but  within  the  North  Atlantic  tri- 
angle she  showed  much  more  independence  of  mind.  With  regard 
to  the  United  States,  the  turning  away  from  reciprocity  was  a  sign 
that  Canada  felt  a  new  readiness  to  make  her  own  way  in  North 
America.  With  regard  to  Britain,  Canadians  on  the  whole  stood 
out  against  the  tide  of  ardent  imperialism  which  was  still  running 
high  in  the  mother  country.  Imperial  questions  bulked  large  in 
this  era,  because  of  Britain's  hopes  of  strengthening  the  empire's 
trade,  government,  and  defence  to  meet  the  mounting  rivalry  of 
great  powers  in  the  darker  world  that  loomed  ahead.  And  yet, 
however  understandable  were  Britain's  intentions,  and  though  she 
meant  only  to  realize  them  through  free  agreement  between 
motherland  and  colonies,  the  fact  was  that  these  imperialist  aims 
ran  up  against  the  growing  counter-force  of  nationalism  in  the 
principal  colonies.  Nationalism  was  not  only  appearing  in  Canada, 
although,  as  the  eldest  Dominion,  it  was  more  advanced  there. 

This  nationalism,  however,  was  of  a  fairly  moderate  sort.  In 
opposing  centralized  imperial  control  it  still  believed  that  the 
empire  might  be  strong  through  the  free  development  of  its  parts, 
and  generally  thought  that  ties  of  friendship  and  common  loyalties 
might  prove  more  lasting  thgn  new  imperial  machinery.  This  was 
the  viewpoint  of  Laurier  nationalism  in  Canada,  where  there  were 
keen  imperialists  as  well,  but  moderate  nationalism  proved  more 
powerful.  There  was  in  truth  little  basic  disagreement  among 
Canadians  over  relations  with  the  empire.  Few  nationalists,  even 
among  the  French  Canadians,  had  any  desire  to  break  the  British 
tie,  and  few  imperialists  meant  to  abandon  Canada's  national  eco- 
nomic policies.  The  disagreements,  which  could  be  noisy,  were  on 
smaller,  particular  questions.  Hence,  while  the  Conservatives  still 



talked  more  warmly  of  empire,  they  stood  by  the  National  Policy 
they  had  created  in  the  face  of  British  free  trade.  And  while  the 
Liberals  wanted  fuller  national  rights  they  continued  to  seek  them 
inside  the  imperial  framework. 

To  some  extent  both  the  so-called  imperialists  and  nationalists 
in  the  Dp-minimi  expressed  the  same  spirit  of  the  new  century :  the 
desire  to  have  Canada  assert  herself.  The  nationalists  wanted  her 
to  do  so  by  avoiding  tighter  imperial  bonds  and  by  gaining  more 
freedom  to  deal  with  external  affairs.  The  imperialists  wanted  her 
to  play  a  greater  part  in  the  empire  and  to  win  some  share  in  the 
framing  of  imperial  policies.  But  both  wanted  Canada  to  make 
a  larger  mark  in  the  world. 

Imperial  questions  came  to  the  fore  almost  as  soon  as  the 
Liberals  took  office.  In  1897  a  Colonial  Conference  was  held  in 
London  on  a  grand  imperial  occasion,  the  celebration  of  Queen 
Victoria's  Diamond  Jubilee.  To  London  thronged  representatives 
from  the  Queen's  vast  domains  around  the  globe.  From  Canada 
came  a  tall,  distinguished  French  Canadian  with  a  courtly  air  and 
a  cordial  manner,  equally  at  ease  in  French  or  English,  in  Windsor 
Castle  or  among  his  rural  supporters  of  Arthabaska,  Quebec.  This 
was  the  Dominion's  prime  minister,  Wilfrid  Laurier.  Laurier,  to 
be  knighted  Sir  Wilfrid  in  London,  came  to  Britain  when  the 
strong-minded  Joseph  Chamberlain  ruled  the  Colonial  Office  and 
there  had  made  his  goal  the  achievement  of  empire  unity.  If 
imperial  federation  or  an  imperial  customs  union  could  not  be 
obtained,  then  some  form  of  imperial  council  representing  Britain 
and  the  chief  colonies  might  be  established.  But  Laurier  said  no, 
in  the  politest  of  terms,  at  the  Conference;  and  apparently  the 
other  colonies  largely  felt  as  he  did,  since  the  meeting  broke  up 
expressing  satisfaction  with  the  existing  ties  of  empire. 

Laurier  and  Canada  pointed  instead  to  the  principle  of  imperial 
preference,  which  the  Liberals  had  introduced  in  their  first  tariff, 
that  of  1897.  The  imperial  preference  was  a  lower  rate  of  customs 
duty  specially  granted  to  British  goods.  Actually  it  was  a  com- 


LAURIER   AND   CANADA'S   CENTURY,    1896-1914 

promise  measure,  which  did  not  really  affect  the  principle  of  tariff 
protection  that  had  now  been  adopted  by  the  Liberals,  but  which 
somewhat  appeased  both  low-tariff  and  imperialist  feelings  in 
Canada  by  reducing  the  protective  rates  in  Britain's  favour.  If, 
however,  all  the  parts  of  the  British  empire  could  give  each  other 
similar  favoured  treatment,  then  a  system  of  imperial  preferences 
might  increase  the  flow  of  trade  within  the  empire  and  strengthen 
imperial  bonds  in  quite  a  practical  fashion.  But  while  the  centre 
of  empire,  Britain,  maintained  a  policy  of  free  trade  and  a  market 
open  to  all  the  world  she  could  not  respond  with  special  favours 
for  her  colonies.  Canada's  grant  of  an  imperial  preference,  broad- 
ened in  1898,  remained  a  one-way  offer. 

The  next  year  a  far  more  urgent  question  arose  in  imperial 
relations.  The  South  African  War  broke  out  in  1899,  and  Canada 
had  to  decide  what  its  policy  would  be  towards  this  empire 
struggle.  Chamberlain  felt  that  imperial  unity  might  be  strength- 
ened by  the  leading  colonies  sending  troops  to  the  war.  Lord 
Minto,  the  Governor-General  in  Canada,  and  many  Canadians 
also  hoped  to  see  a  force  dispatched.  Laurier,  however,  was  faced 
with  a  difficult  problem  of  maintaining  national  unity.  As  British 
forces  met  defeats  in  South  Africa  in  the  early  stages  of  the  war, 
the  demand  swelled  in  English-speaking  Canada  for  the  sending 
of  troops.  But  the  French  Canadians  were  uninterested  or  op- 
posed; both  because  they  felt  the  war  was  not  Canada's  concern 
and  because  they  tended  to  compare  the  position  of  the  Boers  to 
their  own  in  an  English-speaking  empire.  A  purely  French- 
Canadian  nationalism  stirred  again,  condemning  English  Cana- 
dians as  war-mad  imperialists  who  put  Britain  ahead  of  their  own 
country,  Canada.  The  old  racial  division  began  to  crack  open:  a 
challenge  to  Laurier  who  had  dedicated  his  life  to  harmony  be- 
tween the  two  peoples  of  Canada. 

In  these  circumstances  the  government  took  a  middle  course. 
Laurier,  a  French-Canadian,  determined  to  raise  and  send  a  force 
to  South  Africa  in  response  to  the  will  of  the  English-speaking 


LAURIER  AND   CANADA'S   CENTURY,    1896-1914 

majority.  On  the  other  hand  the  force  was  made  up  of  volunteers 
and  was  maintained  in  South  Africa  by  Britain.  The  first  contin- 
gent sailed  from  Quebec  in  October,  1899,  and  more  followed. 
In  all,  more  than  seven  thousand  Canadians  served  in  South 
Africa,  through  the  bloodshed  of  Paardeburg,  the  relief  of  Lady- 
smith  and  the  capture  of  Pretoria,  until  the  war  ended  in  1902. 
Meanwhile  at  home  Laurier's  policy  had  avoided  serious  trouble 
between  French  and  English,  and  between  nationalists  and  im- 
perialists as  well.  For  once  more,  the  sending  of  troops  to  South 
Africa  had  been  almost  as  much  nationalism  as  imperialism. 
Canada  was  asserting  herself,  and  acting  by  her  own  decision. 

After  the  war.  Chamberlain  in  Britain  hoped  to  build  on  the 
feelings  created  by  a  common  imperial  war  effort.  However,  in 
the  Colonial  Conference  of  1902  Laurier  opposed  plans  for  greater 
unity  in  defence  or  government,  and  again  held  to  the  idea  of 
trade  preference.  Chamberlain  himself  came  to  support  that  plan, 
which  would  require  Britain  to  drop  free  trade.  But  in  a  campaign 
to  bring  "tariff  reform'  in  Britain,  Chamberlain  succeeded  only  in 
splitting  his  own  Conservative  party,  so  that  the  Liberals  came  to 
power.  Although  the  free-trade  British  Liberals  could  not  con- 
sider imperial  preference,  they  still  thought  that  some  other  means 
of  strengthening  the  empire  might  be  found.  Laurier  agreed  to 
their  plan  of  making  colonial  conferences  regular  meetings  held 
every  four  years,  under  the  more  imposing  title  of  the  Imperial 
Conference.  He  shared  fully  in  the  conferences  that  followed. 
But  he  still  held  back  from  any  proposals  for  more  centralized 
controls  over  the  empire,  fearing  that  Canada  would  find  herself 
committed  to  policies  which  she  had  not  been  able  to  influence, 
since  the  British  government  maintained  that  relations  with  for- 
eign countries  had  to  be  left  in  the  hands  of  Britain.  Then  too,  his 
particular  problem  of  finding  a  middle  ground  between  both 
French  and  English  in  Canada  required  him  to  be  ever-cautious. 

Defence,  particularly  naval  defence,  was  now  becoming  the 
central  problem  in  imperial  affairs.   As  the  dangers  of  war  in 


LAURIER  AND   CANADA'S   CENTURY,    1896-1914 

Europe  mounted.,  Britain  and  Germany  entered  on  a  grim  race  to 
build  the  most  modern  type  of  battleship.  The  new  German  fleet 
was  coming  perilously  close  to  the  British  in  size.  To  Germany, 
a  land-power,  the  building  race  was  largely  a  matter  of  prestige; 
to  Britain,  living  by  the  sea,  it  was  a  matter  of  life  or  death.  The 
cost  was  enormous,  and  since  the  Royal  Navy  defended  the  whole 
empire,  the  British  government  sought  to  have  the  colonies  share 
in  its  support  by  making  definite  contributions  to  the  imperial 
fleet.  Laurier  again  held  back,  on  the  same  ground  that,  in  con- 
tributing, Canada  would  be  committed  to  aid  where  she  could  not 
influence.  He  stated  clearly  that,  'When  Britain  is  at  war,  Canada 
is  at  war,9  but  felt  that  in  the  event  of  any  war  the  Dominion,  as 
a  self-governing  colony,  had  to  decide  on  its  own  contribution. 
By  keeping  commitments  beforehand  as  low  as  possible,  Canada 
would  be  more  able  to  decide  freely. 

In  any  case,  the  British  Admiralty's  belief  that  imperial  naval 
forces  would  have  to  be  under  one  command  removed  another 
possibility;  that,  instead  of  a  direct  contribution  to  the  Royal 
Navy,  a  Dominion  might  raise  its  own  naval  forces  as  it  already 
did  its  army.  In  1909,  however,  the  naval  race  with  Germany 
was  running  so  close  that  the  Admiralty  gave  up  its  stand  in 
order  to  obtain  whatever  aid  it  could.  As  a  result,  at  the  special 
Imperial  Naval  Conference  of  that  year  Australia  and  Canada 
agreed  to  begin  their  own  fleets,  though  New  Zealand  would  offer 
ships  and  men  direct  to  the  Royal  Navy.  Early  in  1910  Laurier 
introduced  a  bill  in  the  Dominion  Parliament  to  create  a  Canadian 
navy,  and  this  Naval  Service  Bill  was  passed.  . 

The  Canadian  Prime  Minister  had  carried  his  point  on  a  major 
imperial  question.  To  a  great  extent  his  policies  of  nationalism 
within  the  empire  had  so  far  been  successful.  At  the  least  he  had 
steered  between  imperialist  and  nationalist  extremes,  kept  Canada 
reasonably  united,  and  brought  her  wider  national  powers,  of 
which  the  founding  of  a  Canadian  navy  was  only  a  part.  At  the 
most,  he  had  largely  prevented  the  rigid  centralizing  of  the  empire, 



leaving  it  free  to  develop  into  the  Commonwealth.  But  his  day 
was  almost  over,  and  the  Naval  Bill  would  help  to  cause  his  fall. 

4    American  Problems  and  the  Naval  Question 

Laurier  lost  office  in  1911,  in  an  election  in  which  the  Naval 
Bill  played  a  large  part.  Another  main  reason  for  his  fall,  how- 
ever, concerns  the  United  States  rather  than  the  British  empire, 
and  involves  examining  Canada's  dealings  with  that  country  dur- 
ing the  Laurier  era.  Relations  with  the  United  States  had  been 
disturbed  around  the  turn  of  the  century  by  the  Alaska  boundary 
dispute,  and  for  a  time  tempers  had  been  high  in  the  Dominion, 
although  the  anger  soon  passed. 

The  question  of  the  indefinite  Alaskan  boundary  on  the  north- 
ern Pacific  coast,  where  Yukon  and  British  Columbia  bordered 
the  Alaskan  'panhandle',  first  became  important  with  the  Klon- 
dike gold-rush  in  1898.  Skagway  in  the  panhandle,  or  coastal 
strip,  was  the  chief  harbour  that  gave  entrance  to  the  Yukon  river 
and  the  Klondike.  It  lay  up  a  long  inlet;  and  if  this  inlet  reached 
beyond  the  limits  of  the  coastal  strip  that  was  part  of  Alaska,  then 
Skagway  was  a  Canadian  port  and  goods  from  Vancouver  could 
enter  there  duty  free.  If  the  American  claim  extended  inland 
beyond  Skagway,  then  American  customs  houses  could  enjoy  the 
gold-rush  traffic.  This  dispute  over  trade  thus  drew  attention  to 
the  boundary  line  which  had  never  been  clearly  drawn  when  the 
United  States  had  purchased  Alaska. 

The  United  States  probably  had  the  better  case  for  drawing 
the  border  further  inland  than  Canada  desired,  but  the  manner 
in  which  the  question  was  handled  showed  that  the  Americans  did 
not  mean  to  rest  their  case  on  arguments  alone,  and  roused  much 
resentment  in  the  Dominion.  The  republic  was  now  going  through 
a  period  of  imperial  expansion  of  its  own;  its  temper  was  firm  and 
unyielding.  Though  the  United  States  brought  Britain  to  abandon 
treaty  rights  in  Panama,  where  the  great  Panama  Canal  was  to  be 
built,  it  refused  to  make  any  returns  in  Alaska.  It  refused  to  refer 



the  boundary  to  an  outside  decision,  while  President  Theodore 
Roosevelt  ordered  troops  to  Alaska  and  announced  that  he  was 
prepared,  if  necessary,  to  run  the  boundary  without  regard  to 
Britain  or  Canada.  And  when  a  six-man  'impartial'  commission 
was  set  up  to  decide  the  line,  the  three  American  representatives 
were  selected  because,  in  advance,  they  had  already  publicly 
accepted  the  claim  of  the  United  States. 

As  for  the  other  side,  two  Canadians  and  the  Lord  Chief  Justice 
of  England  were  chosen  to  sit  on  the  commission.  The  old  difficul- 
ty of  divided  interests,  as  in  the  Washington  Treaty,  appeared  once 
more,  and  it  is  not  beyond  understanding  that  Britain  put  the 
cause  of  Anglo-American  friendship  ahead  of  the  Canadian  claims. 
At  any  rate,  Lord  Alverstone,  the  Lord  Chief  Justice,  under  both 
British  and  American  pressures,  voted  with  the  United  States 
members  of  the  commission.  The  boundary  settlement,  announced 
hi  1903  in  American  favour,  was  not  as  important  as  the  influence 
of  the  whole  dispute:  and  that  is  why  it  deserves  attention.  Not 
only  did  it  revive  old  Canadian  suspicions  of  the  United  States ;  it 
made  Canada  feel  that  it  was  not  wise  to  leave  too  much  to  imperial 
authorities,  and  so  strengthened  Laurier's  hand  in  opposing  the 
movement  for  closer  imperial  relations. 

Gradually,  however,  Canadian  anger  cooled,  and  relations  with 
the  United  States  improved.  Anglo-American  friendship  was  now 
well  established,  and  Canadians  had  forgotten  their  old  fears  of 
American  attack.  Although  there  would  still  be  disagreements, 
the  plain  fact  was  that  Canadians  and  Americans  got  on  well  to- 
gether and  the  Canadian  way  of  life  was  closely  tied  to  the 
American.  But  in  this  era  as  well,  the  settlement  of  several  out- 
standing arguments  further  helped  the  growth  of  good-will.  For 
example,  the  age-old  Atlantic  fisheries  question  was  settled  by  an 
award  of  the  International  Court  in  1910,  an  award,  incidentally, 
which  favoured  Canada.  The  previous  year  an  International  Joint 
Commission  was  set  up  by  the  two  countries  to  deal  with  ques- 
tions arising  from  their  common  water  boundary  of  the  Great 



Lakes,,  or,  indeed,  with  any  border  problems  referred  to  it.  This 
permanent  body,  working  quietly  with  a  mass  of  practical  prob- 
lems, was  a  landmark  in  the  development  of  friendly  co-operation 
between  Canada  and  the  United  States.  In  fact  the  two  countries 
were  getting  on  together  so  successfully  that  in  1910  the  question 
of  reciprocity  emerged  once  again — and  this  time  it  was  raised  by 
the  United  States. 

It  was  not  the  state  of  trade  but  the  fortunes  of  politics  that 
suddenly  revived  reciprocity.  In  the  United  States  rising  prices 
had  brought  outcries  against  the  lofty  rates  of  the  American  tariff 
of  1909,  and  President  Taft  was  anxious  to  head  off  the  growing 
opposition  by  some  new  measure  of  tariff  reduction.  A  reciproc- 
ity agreement  with  Canada  seemed  the  answer.  When  Laurier 
heard  of  Taft's  readiness  to  discuss  reciprocity  he  was  doubtful 
at  first.  But  he  faced  his  own  mounting  political  difficulties.  Be- 
sides problems  raised  by  his  Naval  Service  Bill>  he  was  confronted 
by  a  vigorous  western  demand  for  a  lowering  of  the  Canadian 
tariff.  In  the  summer  of  1910  Laurier  had  made  his  first  trip  to 
the  West,  and  there  he  had  met  powerful  organizations  of  western 
farmers  with  long  lists  of  grievances,  chief  among  them  the  height 
of  the  tariff.  Late  that  year,  indeed,  the  new  national  farm  organi- 
zation, the  Canadian  Council  of  Agriculture  sat  down  in  Ottawa 
to  press  the  western  demands.  It  seemed  that  the  reciprocity  offer 
had  come  at  the  perfect  moment,  to  charm  all  the  Liberals* 
troubles  away.  Both  parties  were  astounded  by  the  golden  gift 
that  had  fallen  into  Laurier's  kp. 

Agreements  on  reciprocity  were  speedily  reached.  Unlike  the 
agreement  of  1854  there  was  to  be  reciprocity  in  certain  manufac- 
tured goods  as  well  as  in  natural  products,  and  it  was  not  to  be 
established  by  treaty  but  by  laws  passed  in  both  the  United  States 
congress  and  the  Canadian  parliament.  But  while  reciprocity 
passed  through  congress  it  was  held  up  in  parliament,  both  by  the 
Conservatives  and  by  a  group  of  Liberals  under  Clifford  Sifton 
who  had  left  Laurier's  side.  And  opposition  grew  outside  parlia- 



ment.  It  was  another  strange  turn  of  events.  After  years  of  hoping 
for  reciprocity,  long  denied  by  the  Americans,  it  was  now  offered 
by  them,  and  Canada  held  back.  How  could  this  be?  In  part  it 
was  plain  enough.  All  the  powerful  interests  in  Canada  entrenched 
behind  the  tariff,  the  Canadian  Manufacturers9  Association,  the 
railway  interests,  the  Conservative  party,  and  the  Liberals  allied 
with  business  and  banking,  began  a  violent  campaign  against  reci- 
procity. They  largely  appealed  to  the  emotions,  to  loyalty  and  the 
British  tie,  and  hailed  reciprocity  as  the  first  step  to  annexation. 
And  here  prominent  Americans  helped  by  making  unwise  state- 
ments stressing  that  very  point.  The  speaker  of  the  United  States 
House  of  Representatives  supported  reciprocity  on  the  ground 
that  it  pointed  towards  the  day  when  the  American  flag  would 
float  as  far  as  the  North  Pole.  Though  the  United  States  govern- 
ment quickly  denied  any  such  purpose  behind  reciprocity,  the 
damage  was  done.  Since  some  Americans  insisted,  as  in  former 
days,  in  coupling  annexation  with  reciprocity,  Canada,  as  in  for- 
mer days,  was  put  on  her  guard. 

But  this  is  not  sufficient  explanation.  More  significant  is  the 
fact  that  by  1911  reciprocity  had  been  a  dead  issue  in  Canada  for 
almost  twenty  years,  and  she  was  prospering  nicely  without  it. 
The  sudden  revival  of  the  old  theme  did  not  rouse  a  very  deep 
response.  The  east-west  system  seemed  to  be  working  effectively* 
and  questions  of  north-south  trade  were  not  pressing.  Further- 
more the  spirit  of  Canadian  nationalism  developed  in  the  Laurier 
era  worked  against  American  reciprocity,  just  as  it  did  against 
British  imperialism.  Canada  was  doing  very  well  on  her  own — 
too  well  to  seek  entanglements  with  Americans  who  assumed  that 
she  could  not  stand  on  her  own.  Nor  was  American  stiffness  in 
Alaska  wholly  forgotten.  Though  such  a  reaction  might  have  been 
mainly  emotional,  it  was  a  root  cause  of  the  defeat  of  reciprocity. 
Laurier  decided  to  hold  an  election  on  that  issue  in  the  autumn  of 
1911.  When  he  went  down  to  defeat,  he  was  in  part  beaten  by  the 
very  nationalism  which  he  had  helped  to  develop. 



He  was  beaten  as  well  by  another  sort  of  nationalism,  the  strong 
French  Canadian  variety  that  was  revived  in  Quebec  by  his  Naval 
Bill.  The  Bill  that  passed  parliament  in  1910  called  for  a  Cana- 
dian navy  of  five  cruisers  and  six  destroyers.  It  was  only  to  be 
a  beginning,  a  unit  for  training  and  coastal  defence,  but  the  Con- 
servatives attacked  the  'tin-pot  navy'  as  useless  in  the  empire's 
time  of  danger,  and  called  for  direct  contributions  to  help  supply 
the  battleships  that  Britain  really  needed  to  match  the  German 
fleet.  The  chief  attack  on  Laurier's  navy,  however,  came  from  the 
other  side,  from  French  nationalists  led  by  Henri  Bourassa.  Bour- 
assa  was  a  grandson  of  Papineau,  and  like  his  grandfather  had 
great  powers  of  mind  and  oratory  and  a  staunch  patriotism  for 
French  Canada.  Unlike  Papineau,  however,  he  was  also  a  firm 
ultramontane  and  thus  was  well  equipped  to  lead  the  clerical  and 
racial  extremists  of  Quebec.  Although  he  professed  to  admire 
British  Liberalism,  as  Laurier  assuredly  did,  he  had  little  of  the 
tolerance  that  marked  both  Laurier  and  British  Liberalism  at  its 

The  extreme  nationalists  of  Quebec  had  been  fairly  quiet  in 
the  earlier  years  of  Laurier's  rule,  especially  after  his  notable  vic- 
tory over  ultramontanism  in  that  province  in  1896.  But  gradually 
they  began  to  revive,  as  Laurier's  external  policies,  which  were 
too  lukewarm  for  the  imperialists  of  Canada,  seemed  too  friendly 
to  English  and  imperial  interests  to  suit  many  French  Canadians. 
When  the  Naval  Bill  was  passed,  all  the  French  hostility  to  im- 
perialism and  the  dominance  of  English  Canada  burst  forth,  skil- 
fully fanned  by  Bourassa.  Quebec  wanted  no  navy  at  all.  A 
French  Nationalist  party  took  shape,  denouncing  Laurier  as  a 
traitor  to  his  people,  and  the  Bill  as  an  imperialist  trick  to  involve 
Canada  in  foreign  wars.  The  result  was  to  split  the  vote  in  Quebec 
in  the  critical  election  of  1911.  The  great  influence  of  Laurier  still 
carried  the  province  for  the  Liberals,  but  with  a  much  reduced 
majority;  and  they  lost  sufficient  seats  elsewhere,  particularly  in 
Ontario,  to  lose  the  whole  election. 


LAURIER  AND   CANADA'S   CENTURY,    1896-1914 

The  Conservative  victors  of  1911  had  little  to  be  proud  of.  On 
the  whole  Laurier's  defeat  was  due  to  the  unpopularity  of  his  own 
measures,  the  Naval  Bill  in  Quebec,  and  reciprocity  in  most  of  the 
other  provinces.  Yet  the  way  in  which  his  opponents  attacked 
these  policies  gave  them  a  resounding  but  unlovely  triumph.  It 
was  not  merely  that  the  Conservatives  made  frantic  appeals  to 
every  imperial  sentiment  while  battling  reciprocity,  but  that  at  the 
same  time  they  allied  with  the  violent  anti-imperialists  of  Quebec. 
In  Ontario  they  attacked  Laurier's  navy  because  it  was  hopelessly 
insufficient,  in  Quebec  because  it  was  far  too  much.  The  two  ends 
successfully  combined  against  the  middle. 

Once  in  power,  however,  the  Conservatives  threw  off  the  re- 
straints of  the  Quebec  Nationalists  and  produced  a  naval  measure 
of  their  own.  Their  new  leader,  Robert  Borden,  a  serious,  rugged 
Nova  Scotian,  showed  in  office  that  he  had  views  as  definite  as 
Laurier's  on  what  Canadian  external  policy  should  be.  Borden 
proposed  that  because  of  the  continuing  naval  emergency  the 
Liberals'  navy  measure  should  be  dropped  for  the  time  being 
and  a  direct  contribution  be  made  to  Britain  to  provide  the  Grand 
Fleet  with  three  battleships  at  a  cost  of  $35,000,000.  This  plan 
he  introduced  in  a  new  Naval  Bill  in  1912.  It  was  not,  however, 
simply  a  matter  of  emergency  aid.  Borden  believed  that  before 
any  permanent  defence  measures  were  decided  upon,  Canada 
must  secure  from  Britain  some  share  in  the  making  of  imperial 
foreign  policy.  In  short,  he  was  ready  to  take  on  imperial  defence 
burdens  in  exchange  for  a  voice  in  the  control  of  imperial  policy. 
Laurier  had  sought  to  avoid  commitments;  Borden  would  accept 
them  and  make  use  of  them.  His  was  that  sort  of  Canadian  im- 
perialism that  wanted  to  see  Canada  gain  more  standing  through 
the  empire  itself.  And  in  this  way  he  too  was  a  nationalist,  seeking 
to  assert  the  new  power  of  Canada. 

As  for  the  emergency  contribution  of  three  battleships,  this 
Borden  desired  because  he  recognized  the  vital  significance  of 
British  naval  power  in  the  world.  Without  the  shield  of  the  Royal 


LAURIER  AND   CANADA'S   CENTURY,    1896-1914 

Navy  the  overseas  empire  lay  open  to  German  sea  power,  and  the 
strength  of  that  shield  depended  then  on  battleships  above  all. 
Germany's  building  programme  was  still  pressing  dangerously  on 
Britain's  lead,  as  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty,  Winston  Chur- 
chill, made  plain  to  Borden.  His  Naval  Bill  for  a  contribution, 
however,  was  defeated  in  1913  by  a  Senate  full  of  Liberals  appoin- 
ted during  Laurier's  long  reign.  Liberalism  still  believed  it  was 
Canada's  place  to  build  her  own  navy  and  not  turn  over  the  task 
to  Britain.  But  before  another  naval  plan  had  been  framed  the 
state  of  emergency  had  ended  in  open  war.  In  August  1914,  the 
First  World  War  began.  There  was  no  more  question  of  giving 
battleships.  They  would  have  been  built  in  British  shipyards,  and 
now  Britain  was  building  all  she  could.  Canada's  money  could 
best  go  to  her  own  war  effort.  Hence  the  naval  question  came  to 
an  end  without  Canada  ever  having  settled  it. 

Yet  in  the  few  years  before  war  burst  upon  it  the  Borden 
government  worked  at  home  to  modernize  the  army  and  to  estab- 
lish the  common  standards  for  British  and  Dominions  forces  that 
had  been  recommended  by  the  Imperial  Conference  of  1907  and 
the  Imperial  Defence  Committee.  Otherwise  the  Conservatives 
largely  carried  on  the  policies  of  the  Laurier  government,  aiding 
railway  building  and  promoting  western  settlement.  The  West, 
however,  was  almost  filled,  and  in  1913  the  long  boom  period  was 
coming  to  a  close.  There  were  signs  of  depression  when  the  out- 
break of  war  caused  a  new  flurry  of  activity  and  hid  the  fact  that 
an  era  had  ended  for  Canada.  Though  Laurier  after  1911  was 
Leader  of  the  Opposition  and  no  longer  Prime  Minister,  this 
whole  period  was  truly  the  Laurier  era.  He  had  risen  with  it, 
helped  to  build  its  prosperity,  its  confidence  and  nationalism. 
The  age  that  followed  after  1914  would  strain  that  nationalism 
severely,  but  would  also  see  Canada  advance  to  the  full  achieve- 
ment of  nationhood. 


CHAPTER    17 


I    Canada  and  the  First  World  War 

In  the  golden  summer  of  1914  the  muttering  thunder  clouds 
that  had  been  gradually  rising  suddenly  burst  over  Europe.  War 
descended  on  a  world  long  at  peace,  as  Germany's  swelling  mili- 
tary might  and  restless  plans  of  expansion  finally  overturned  the 
uneasy  balance  of  power.  In  the  tremendous  struggle  that  fol- 
io wed,  Germany  and  Austria  faced  Russia  in  the  east  and  Britain, 
France,  and  Italy  in  the  west.  Yet  so  powerful  was  the  well-pre- 
pared German  war  machine  that  it  took  all  the  efforts  of  the 
European  Allies,  together  with  those  of  the  United  States  and  the 
British  Dominions,  to  turn  back  the  German  invaders  and  bring 
their  military  empire  down.  Before  the  collapse  came  in  1918, 
Germany  had  forced  Russia  from  the  war  in  the  throes  of  a  com- 
munist revolution,  had  swept  deep  into  eastern  Europe,  and  in 
the  west  had  made  France  the  main  battleground  of  the  war  with 
the  western  Allies.  It  was  on  this  western  front  that  Canada  was 
chiefly  to  be  engaged. 

When  on  4  August,  1914,  the  cables  and  the  new  wireless  tele- 
graph flashed  the  message  'War'  across  the  Atlantic,  Canada  for 
the  first  time  found  herself  flung  into  the  midst  of  world  affairs. 
Since  the  conquest  of  New  France,  great  European  conflicts  had 
largely  passed  her  by.  Canada  had  been  a  remote  colony,  weak 
and  dependent,  with  struggles  of  her  own,  but  she  had  been  kept 
securely  distant  from  the  quarrels  of  Europe  by  a  wall  of  British 
sea  power.  Now  the  distant  colony,  no  longer  weak  and  struggling, 
entered  a  world  of  stern  dangers  and  high  responsibilities,  the 
world  she  has  been  in  ever  since.  This  new  stage  brought  sacrifice 
and  heavy  burdens  for  Canada.  Yet  with  them  came  the  rights  of 



nationhood.  Out  of  the  vast  world  conflict  Canada  became  a 
nation,  a  full  partner  in  an  empire  that  had  been  transformed  into 
the  British  Commonwealth  of  Nations. 

In  the  period  before  1914,  Canadians  had  not  worried  greatly 
about  the  prospect  of  a  world  war.  Despite  the  naval  building 
race,  the  growing  strain  in  Europe,  and  the  arguments  over  the 
naval  question,  they  had  in  general  been  too  busy  with  their  own 
development  at  home.  They  had  enough  to  think  about  in  railway 
questions,  the  problems  of  western  settlement,  or  the  booming 
state  of  trade.  Not  only  British  sea  power  but  the  American 
Monroe  Doctrine  seemed  to  keep  them  safe.  Since  their  only 
close  neighbour,  the  United  States,  was  no  longer  to  be  feared, 
the  Monroe  Doctrine,  which  declared  that  the  republic  would 
oppose  any  attack  on  the  Americas  from  without,  virtually  pre- 
sented the  Canadians  with  the  further  protection  of  a  nation  of 
ninety  million  people.  This,  of  course,  had  tended  to  make  the 
Dominion  feel  less  concerned  over  defence  problems  than  Britain 
was  herself.  And  how  could  anyone  worry  in  the  bright  new 
twentieth  century,  where  all  was  progress?  Canada  had  yet  to 
learn  that  this  was  the  false  brightness  that  comes  before  a 

When,  however,  the  storm  broke,  Canada  went  wholeheartedly 
into  the  war.  French  and  English  Canadians  alike  supported  it, 
and  there  was  no  question  that  Britain's  declaration  of  war  had 
bound  Canada  as  a  part  of  the  empire.  But  what  led  Canadians 
to  accept  the  conflict  so  readily?  To  some  extent,  no  doubt,  it  was 
lack  of  awareness  of  what  might  be  involved;  there  was  still  a 
colonial  habit  of  mind  in  Canada  which  simply  accepted  decisions 
made  outside.  To  a  degree,  also,  it  was  the  strong  desire  to  help 
Britain  felt  among  English-speaking  Canadians,  and  an  eagerness 
for  adventure  as  well.  Yet  beyond  these  things,  the  national 
interests  of  Canadians  were  deeply  concerned  in  the  war:  their 
trade,  their  security,  the  kind  of  world  that  they  lived  in,  and  for 
which  Britain  stood.  Distant  North  America  could  not  stand 



aloof;  as  even  the  much  more  self-contained  United  States  decided 
hi  1917. 

As  quickly  as  possible,  in  August  of  1914,  the  Dominion  parlia- 
ment was  called  into  special  session,  and  the  Canadian  war  effort 
began  to  take  shape.  The  War  Measures  Act  was  passed,  which 
gave  the  federal  government  extremely  wide  power  to  deal  with 
the  wartime  emergency.  The  raising  of  25,000  troops  was  ordered, 
and  the  army  grew  rapidly  from  its  tiny  pre-war  size  as  volunteers 
flocked  in.  Within  two  months  the  first  contingent  had  set  sail  for 
England  in  a  swift  convoy  of  liners,  cruisers  and  destroyers,  the 
largest  troop  movement  that  had  yet  been  made  across  the  Atlan- 
tic. The  first  Canadians  crossed  from  England  to  France  early  in 
1915,  and  by  that  autumn  the  two  Canadian  divisions  that  had 
now  arrived  on  the  western  front  were  set  up  as  a  separate  Cana- 
dian Corps.  Before  1917  there  were  two  more  divisions  in  the 
Corps,  as  well  as  separate  bodies  of  special  troops.  In  all  Canada 
raised  over  600,000  men  for  the  army,  while  others  served  in 
British  or  Canadian  naval  units  and  supplied  a  sizeable  part  of 
the  Royal  Flying  Corps,  later  the  Royal  Air  Force. 

In  the  air,  in  those  days  of  light  aircraft  and  no  parachutes, 
fighting  was  a  matter  of  daring  and  personal  skill,  with  little  re- 
liance on  organized  battle  tactics.  The  Canadians  took  readily  to 
the  man-to-man  air  combats,  and  counted  some  of  the  leading 
Allied  aces  among  their  number,  including  'Billy5  Bishop,  who 
had  a  record  of  seventy-two  enemy  aircraft  destroyed.  A  group 
of  seasoned  Canadian  pilots  was  developed,  some  of  whom  would 
use  their  skill  and  knowledge  after  the  war  to  conquer  Canada's 
vast  northern  distances  by  air. 

At  sea  Canadians  took  a  less  spectacular  part.  The  tiny  Cana- 
dian navy  was  chiefly  engaged  in  patrolling  the  coasts  in  two  old 
cruisers  lent  by  Britain,  in  motor  launches  and  in  armed  yachts. 
But  during  the  endless  watch  at  sea,  through  Atlantic  fog  and 
blizzard,  a  group  of  trained  men  was  built  up  which,  in  later 
years,  would  be  able  to  expand  the  Royal  Canadian  Navy  into  the 



third  largest  convoy  fleet  in  the  world,  in  order  to  meet  the  needs 
of  a  second  World  War. 

It  was  on  land,  however,  that  the  Canadians  played  their  largest 
role.  In  1915  the  First  Division  met  the  first  German  gas  attacks 
at  Ypres,  and  when  French  Colonial  troops  next  to  them  fled 
before  the  murderous  green  clouds  they  blocked  the  hole  in  the 
line.  They  held  on  when  the  gas  was  turned  against  them,  cough- 
ing and  dying  without  gas  masks.  In  1916  the  whole  Canadian 
Corps  entered  the  massive  Somme  attack,  working  with  the  new 
secret  tanks,  and  henceforth,  as  Lloyd  George  said,  the  Corps 
was  marked  out  as  the  spearhead  of  attack  *in  one  great  batde 
after  another*.  Nineteen-seventeen  saw  the  mud  and  bloodshed 
of  Passchendaele  and  the  perfectly  executed  capture  of  Vimy 
Ridge,  the  key  to  the  whole  Arras  batdefront.  Here  a  great 
Canadian  war  memorial  now  crowns  the  Ridge,  raising  its  twin 
white  shafts  high  above  the  Ypres  flatlands.  In  1918  came  a  long, 
unbroken  string  of  Canadian  victories  in  the  final,  successful 
Allied  attack.  Then  in  'Canada's  Hundred  Days',  from  4  August 
to  ii  November,  the  Canadian  Corps  sliced  through  the  deep 
defences  of  the  formidable  Hindenburg  Line  and  driving  ahead 
with  the  First  British  Army  reached  Mons  on  the  last  day  of  the 
fighting;  the  town  where — so  long  ago  it  seemed — the  little  British 
army  of  1914  had  first  met  the  advancing  German  legions.  When 
the  war  ended  Canada  had  lost  as  many  men  as  the  powerful 
United  States,  out  of  a  population  of  less  than  a  tenth  the  size. 
Sad  and  heavy  as  the  cost  was,  it  was  an  imposing  effort  for  the 
young  Dominion  to  make. 

Home-front  developments  were  no  less  remarkable  in  their  own 
way.  Since  the  war  was  cutting  off  or  destroying  much  of  Europe's 
farming  production,  Canada's  wide  farmlands  became  immensely 
important  in  feeding  the  western  Allies.  Almost  as  much  prairie 
land  was  brought  under  the  plough  in  the  war  years  as  had  already 
been  farmed  in  1913.  Wheat,  flour,  meat,  and  cattle  exports  soared. 
So  did  lumber,  since  Germany  blocked  the  way  to  Baltic  forest 



lands.  The  need  for  Canadian  wood  pulp  also  rose,  because  the 
Swedish  supply  was  not  available.  Mining,  in  particular,,  jumped 
ahead  in  the  Shield  and  the  Rockies,  as  the  roaring  armament 
factories  demanded  more  and  more  metals — copper,  lead,  zinc, 
and  above  all,  nickel.  Near  Sudbury,  Ontario,  there  lay  one  of  the 
richest  supplies  of  nickel  ore  in  the  world,  and  nickel  was  essential 
for  hardening  armour  plate  and  making  armour-piercing  nickel- 
steel  shells.  Canada  came  to  control  over  ninety  per  cent  of  the 
world's  nickel  production. 

Thanks  to  all  this  activity,  the  east-west  trading  system  was 
strained  to  the  limit.  The  transcontinental  railways  throbbed  with 
traffic,  the  Atlantic  ports  were  crowded.  Halifax  came  into  its  own 
again  as  a  naval  base,  and  its  magnificent  harbour  saw  many  a  long, 
grey  convoy  assemble  in  Bedford  Basin;  and  saw  too  the  terrible 
explosion  of  1917,  when  a  fire  on  board  a  French  munitions  ship 
ended  by  wiping  out  half  the  city.  But  Halifax  recovered  and 
worked  on  ceaselessly,  as  did  all  Canada  in  the  feverish  haste  of 
wartime  production  and  shipment. 

Yet  perhaps  the  most  striking  developments  came  in  industry. 
Canada  had  already  had  numerous  factories  before  the  war;  but 
except,  perhaps,  for  railway  shops  and  farm-machinery  plants, 
there  was  a  lack  of  heavy  industry  and  large-scale  machine  pro- 
duction. Canadian  mineral  products,  for  example,  were  chiefly 
exported  to  industries  in  other  lands,  and  there  were  few  skilled 
machinists  in  the  Dominion.  It  remains  true  today  that  because 
Canada  produces  such  a  great  quantity  of  minerals  and  other  raw 
materials,  most  of  them  still  go  abroad.  But,  under  the  pressure 
of  war,  heavy  industry  and  machine  skills  began  to  spread  in 
Canada  as  the  need  for  the  weapons  of  battle  mounted  constantly. 
Most  of  this  war  production  was  taken  up  with  shells  and  guns, 
under  the  guidance  of  both  the  Canadian  government  and  the 
Imperial  Munitions  Board.  By  1917  close  to  a  third  of  the  shells 
fired  by  British  forces  in  France  had  come  from  Canada.  This  was 
a  bitter  kind  of  industrialism,  its  products  shattering  themselves  in 


spreading  destruction,  but  it  was  a  matter  of  stern  necessity.  And 
after  the  war  the  factories  built  and  the  skills  learnt  in  machining 
shells,  fuses,  and  guns  could  be  turned  to  broader  uses.  Besides, 
by  the  war's  end  Canada  was  also  turning  out  steel  ships  and  air- 
craft frames,  and  had  built  up  a  large  industrial  labour  force  with 
a  high  standard  of  living. 

The  Borden  government  played  a  considerable  part  in  shaping 
this  war  effort.  Since  Canada  had  never  before  sought  to  produce 
on  such  a  scale  it  was  not  surprising  that  there  were  mistakes  and 
blunders  as  well  as  notable  successes  in  the  government's  wartime 
policies.  One  great  problem  was  the  financing  of  the  war.  Canada 
until  now  had  been  a  debtor  country,  borrowing  money  for  her 
development  mainly  from  Britain.  But  Britain,  pressed  to  the 
limit,  had  no  more  funds  to  spare;  and  as  well  as  paying  her  own 
way,  Canada  found  that  she  would  have  to  lend  to  Britain  to  help 
pay  for  British  war  purchases  in  the  Dominion.  A  drastic  change 
was  taking  place  in  the  financial  relations  of  the  two  countries. 
Almost  overnight  the  Canadian  government  found  that  it  must 
stand  on  its  own  resources,  though  provinces  and  private  industry 
resorted  more  and  more  to  the  American  money  market.  In  con- 
sequence, new  taxes  were  laid  on  the  Canadian  people,  including, 
in  1917,  the  first  Dominion  income  tax.  But  the  government's 
main  resource  was  the  Victory  Loan.  Victory  Loans  were  repeat- 
edly floated,  until  over  $2,000,000,000  had  thus  been  raised. 
Their  success  was  a  mark  of  the  growing  financial  strength  of 
Canada;  but  they  also  helped  to  stimulate  greatly  a  runaway  war- 
time boom  that  brought  ever-mounting  prices  and  serious  difficul- 
ties for  the  ordinary  mass  of  the  people. 

Attempts  to  control  the  rising  prices  and  share  out  goods  in 
short  supply  were  none  too  successful.  The  Borden  ministry 
dung  to  the  long-accepted  attitude  in  Canada,  that  government 
should  interfere  as  little  as  possible  in  economic  affairs.  But  the 
rising  public  demand  for  state  action,  forced  them  to  set  up  partial 
and  rather  half-hearted  controls :  a  Cost  of  Living  Commissioner 



in  1916,  a  Food  Controller  in  1917,  and  a  War  Trade  Board  in 

1918.  The  lack  of  connection  between  these  offices  only  increased 
the  demand  for  effective  government  control  of  wartime  living 
problems.  Unrest  remained,  labour  and  farm  organizations  grew, 
storing  up  grievances  that  would  burst  forth  once  the  war  was 
over.  Perhaps  the  most  successful  government  system  of  control 
was  that  established  in  1917  to  handle  and  market  the  whole 
Canadian  wheat  crop.  This  became  the  Canada  Wheat  Board  in 

1919.  It  too  would  have  its  consequences  for  the  future. 

The  chief  home-front  problem,  however,  was  that  of  man- 
power. It  was  a  question  of  finding  sufficient  men  in  this  nation 
of  eight  million  people  not  only  to  carry  on  the  strenuous  work  of 
production  in  farms  and  factories,  but  to  maintain  the  armed 
forces  that  were  meeting  heavy  losses  on  the  western  front,  in  a 
conflict  that  cost  the  Western  Allies  a  far  higher  rate  of  casualties 
than  the  Second  World  War.  To  some  extent  the  Borden  govern- 
ment succeeded  in  meeting  the  manpower  problem.  The  need  for 
labour  in  the  rising  factories  was  met,  partly  by  calling  on  the 
great  reserve  of  woman-power.  One  well-deserved  consequence  of 
this  was  the  extension  of  votes  to  women,  by  acts  passed  during 
and  shortly  after  the  war.  The  government  also  managed  to  keep 
the  Canadian  Corps  up  to  strength.  In  all,  it  assembled  a  volun- 
teer army  of  well  over  half  a  million  men.  Yet,  as  the  blood-letting 
of  war  went  on,  the  question  of  maintaining  the  flow  of  new 
recruits  grew  ever  more  pressing.  And  it  was  here,  in  meeting  the 
manpower  problem,  that  the  Borden  ministry  encountered  its 
gravest  difficulties.  Its  policies  produced  a  new  division  between 
French  and  English  in  Canada,  and  a  racial  crisis  that  left  lasting 

2    Conscription  and  the  Racial  Crisis 

When  the  war  began  there  was  no  sign  that  it  would  endanger 
the  national  unity  that  had  been  built  up  in  the  Laurier  era. 
Laurier  himself,  as  leader  of  the  Liberal  opposition,  pledged  his 



full  support  to  the  war  effort,  and  swung  his  wide  influence  in 
French  Canada  behind  the  war  which,  he  declared,  was  a  struggle 
both  for  world  freedom  and  for  very  existence.  Even  Henri  Bour- 
assa  approved  Canada's  entry  into  war,  while  tie  leaders  of  the 
Quebec  clergy  urged  loyal  support  for  Britain.  French  Canadian 
volunteers  streamed  in  as  readily  as  English-speaking  Canadians. 
Never  had  Canada  been  more  united  than  in  preparing  for  the 
great  conflict. 

If  only  matters  had  been  better  handled,  this  mood  of  unity 
might  almost  have  made  the  shock  of  war  seem  worth  while.  But 
very  soon  racial  disputes  began  to  arise  again.  The  fact  that  at  first 
they  were  not  even  connected  with  the  war  only  made  them  more 
tragic.  There  was  another  schools  quarrel,  this  time  in  Ontario, 
where  the  new  Regulation  17  sought  to  limit  teaching  in  French 
in  a  few  'border'  areas  of  the  province  inhabited  by  French  Cana- 
dians. This  unwise  effort  to  absorb  French-speaking  citizens  was 
only  the  largest  of  a  nyniber  of  petty  disputes  on  the  home  front: 
petty,  that  is,  in  comparison  with  the  tremendous  struggle  that  had 
to  be  faced  overseas.  Yet,  to  the  French  Canadians,  whose  gaze 
turned  inward  from  living  so  long  in  their  own  world  of  the  St 
Lawrence,  such  questions  loomed  larger  than  they  did  to  the 
English  Canadians,  who  had  been  led  to  look  outwards  by  their 
much  closer  ties  with  Britain  across  the  sea. 

As  French  irritation  grew,  so  did  that  of  English  Canada,  be- 
cause of  reports  that  the  French  Canadians  were  falling  behind  in 
supplying  men  for  the  army.  In  some  degree  this  was  true.  As 
calls  went  out  for  more  and  more  volunteers,  the  rate  of  French 
enlistments  declined.  The  French  did  not  share  the  strong  emo- 
tional drive  to  enlist  that  affected  English-speaking  Canadians. 
They  viewed  the  war  as  a  noble  adventure,  not  as  a  life-or-death 
struggle.  Their  feelings  for  Britain  were  those  of  respect  or 
thoughtful  support,  not  of  warm  sentiment,  and  they  had  too 
long  gone  their  separate  way  to  feel  deeply  about  Britain's  ally, 
France.  In  addition,  they  were  a  farming  people,  and  farmers 



traditionally  are  harder  to  enlist  than  the  less  firmly  rooted  popu- 
lation of  the  towns.  It  seems  clear,  as  well,  that  French  Canadians 
did  not  fully  sense  the  meaning  of  the  war:  that  their  whole 
secure,  isolated  world  would  be  in  danger  if  the  conflict  were 
lost.  Here  English  Canada  showed  more  awareness.  Yet  at  least 
the  French  attitude  was  understandable. 

And  it  might  have  developed  on  other  lines  if  the  Borden 
government  had  not  mismanaged  French-Canadian  recruiting. 
Little  attempt  was  made  to  see  the  French  point  of  view.  There 
was  not  much  understanding  of  the  language  problem  in  training 
French-Canadian  volunteers,  who  sometimes  knew  no  English, 
although  the  brilliant  overseas  record  of  a  regiment  such  as  the 
Royal  Twenty-Second,  the  famed  'Vandoos',  showed  what  a 
wholly  French-Canadian  unit  could  do.  Yet  few  distinctly  French- 
Canadian  units  were  raised,  despite  the  natural  French  desire  for 
them.  Nor  did  the  direction  of  the  Minister  of  Militia,  the  ener- 
getic but  wayward  Sir  Sam  Hughes,  help  matters.  He  shared  the 
superior  attitude  and  uninformed  prejudice  regarding  French 
Canadians  that  are  among  the  worst  characteristics  of  some  Eng- 
lish Canadians  (although  the  same  thing  might  also  be  said  on  the 
other  side).  As  if  it  were  not  enough  to  have  an  anti-Catholic 
Ulsterman  as  Minister  of  Militia,  some  Protestant  clergymen 
were  among  the  recruiting  officers  sent  to  Quebec:  a  measure  not 
likely  to  soothe  the  feelings  of  that  Roman  Catholic  province. 

In  these  circumstances,  it  is  not  altogether  surprising  that 
French  Canadian  enlistments  lagged.  But,  as  casualties  mounted, 
it  was  also  natural  that  English  Canada,  suffering  much  heavier 
losses,  should  accuse  the  French  of  not  doing  their  share.  Harsh 
words  were  exchanged,  and  French  Canada  began  to  retreat  more 
and  more  into  its  old  narrow  nationalism.  The  French  Canadians 
could  see  in  the  English  Canadian  demand  for  an  all-out  war 
effort  only  that  imperialism  again,  which  put  British  interests 
ahead  of  Canada's.  By  1916  there  were  riots  against  recruiting  in 
Quebec  towns  and  Bourassa  was  openly  opposing  the  war. 



At  the  same  time  the  need  for  recruits  was  becoming  serious. 
The  already  large  number  of  men  in  the  forces  and  the  demands 
of  farms  and  factories  meant  that  it  was  increasingly  difficult  to 
keep  up  enlistment  through  the  volunteer  system.  By  the  end  of 
1916  it  was  failing  to  meet  requirements  for  recruits.  The  govern- 
ment had  previously  opposed  the  idea  of  conscribing  men  for 
military  service,  which  was  not  then  fully  accepted  in  the  Domin- 
ions. But  early  in  1917  Borden  returned  from  a  visit  to  England, 
where  the  critical  need  for  every  last  man  in  arms  had  been  pressed 
upon  him.  While  realizing  the  bitter  opposition  it  would  arouse 
among  the  French,  he  was  convinced  that  Canada  must  accept 

Other  countries  faced  their  troubles  in  adopting  conscription; 
but  in  Canada,  with  its  two  peoples,  one  of  them  feeling  as  the 
French  did,  it  was  either  a  very  brave  or  very  foolish  thing  to  do 
— or  both.  A  Military  Service  Bill  for  conscription  was  put  before 
parliament.  Borden  hoped  to  avoid  splitting  the  nation  over  the 
dangerous  question  by  forming  a  union  government;  that  is,  by 
combining  with  the  Liberals  to  carry  conscription  as  the  only 
patriotic  policy.  Many  English-speaking  Liberals  were  willing  to 
support  a  union  or  coalition  government,  for  they  too  were  con- 
vinced that  conscription  was  necessary.  Laurier,  however,  refused 
Borden's  offer  of  alliance.  He  knew  that  French  Canada  would 
not  accept  conscription,  even  from  a  party  coalition,  and  he  felt 
that  such  a  measure  could  never  pay  for  the  destruction  of  national 
unity.  Up  to  this  point  Laurier  had  fully  supported  the  war  effort. 
He  continued  to  believe  in  Allied  victory.  But  he  could  not  believe 
that  Canadian  conscription  would  be  vital  to  that  victory,  though 
he  feared  it  would  be  ruinous  to  Canada.  Indeed,  he  saw  the 
whole  work  of  his  lifetime  hanging  in  the  balance. 

But  though  Laurier  felt  thus,  he  could  not  prevent  a  split  in  his 
own  party.  Led  by  Sir  Clifford  Sifton,  most  of  the  English- 
speaking  Liberals,  especially  from  Ontario  and  the  West,  left 
Laurier  for  Borden.  In  October,  1917,  a  Union  government  was 



established,  under  Borden,  containing  ten  Liberals  and  thirteen 
Conservatives.  An  angry,  excited  election  followed,  in  which,  as 
might  be  expected,  the  government  carried  every  province  but 
Quebec.  Laurier,  on  the  other  hand,  won  all  but  three  seats  in 
Quebec,  and  only  twenty  in  all  Canada  beyond.  This  result  showed 
how  dangerously  far  the  racial  division  had  gone.  In  effect  English 
Canada  was  ranged  against  French  Canada,  and  passions  were 
high.  Conscription  was  assured;  but  was  it  worth  it? 

One  thing  was  certain.  A  new  breach  had  opened  in  Canada 
which  robbed  the  national  successes  of  the  war  effort  of  much  of 
their  effect.  The  bitterness  and  suspicion  produced  on  both  sides 
would  take  a  long  time  to  live  down.  And  politics  and  govern- 
ments would  long  be  affected  by  the  memories  of  the  conscription 
crisis.  As  for  the  conscripts,  only  about  60,000  of  them  had  been 
raised  by  the  time  the  war  ended,  and  few  of  them  ever  reached 
France.  The  whole  result,  then,  seems  definitely  not  worth  it. 
There  are,  however,  a  few  things  to  be  said  by  way  of  qualification. 

In  the  first  place,  it  is  easy  to  judge  by  the  wisdom  that  comes 
after  the  event,  and  say  that  60,000  men  who  were  hardly  used 
were  not  worth  all  the  trouble.  Manpower  policies  had  to  be  set 
ahead,  and  there  was  no  way  of  knowing  in  the  bleak  days  of  1917 
that  the  next  year  would  see  the  sudden  collapse  of  Germany.  In 
the  second  place,  the  division  of  races  was  not  quite  as  sharp  as 
it  first  appeared  to  be.  In  the  total  of  the  votes  cast  in  Canada, 
in  the  election  of  1917,  Laurier  was  not  too  far  behind  Borden;  it 
was  the  soldiers'  ballots  and  the  government's  arrangement  of 
special  voting  provisions  to  strengthen  its  hand,  that  gave  it  such 
a  telling  majority  of  seats  in  parliament.  The  point  here  is  that 
others  besides  the  French  Canadians  strongly  opposed  conscrip- 
tion, especially  among  the  farmers  and  the  trade  unionists.  And 
in  the  third  place,  Canada  continued  to  hold  together  once  con- 
scription had  been  established.  There  was  rioting  in  Quebec  City 
and  there  were  some  attempts  among  French  Canadians  to  avoid 
being  conscribed  as  a  matter  of  principle.  But  considering  the 



heated  feelings  roused  by  the  question  of  conscription,  one  might 
say  that  this  new  racial  crisis  had  revealed  that  by  now  the  bonds 
that  knit  the  Dominion  together  had  toughened  considerably. 

At  any  rate,  Canada  emerged  from  the  conscription  crisis  as  she 
did  from  the  war,  shaken  and  strained,  but  by  no  means  exhausted 
or  gloomy.  And  if  Canadian  nationalism  had  suffered  a  setback  at 
home,  abroad  it  was  advancing  steadily,  rounding  out  the  new 
position  that  Canada  had  earned  by  right  of  blood  and  effort. 

3    Borden  and  the  Commonwealth 

During  the  war  the  Dominions  of  the  British  empire  made 
heavy  contributions  to  the  Allied  cause.  Britain's  contribution 
was  on  a  greater  scale  than  theirs,  but  the  aid  freely  given  by 
these  young,  self-governing  countries  was  plainly  important;  so 
important  that  they  began  to  occupy  a  larger  place  in  the  world. 
By  the  close  of  the  war  they  were  becoming  nations  in  their  own 
right,  though  they  still  kept  the  bond  between  them.  Out  of  the 
empire,  in  fact,  the  British  Commonwealth  of  Nations  was  now 
emerging  as  a  group  of  free  peoples  sharing  equal  membership  in 
a  world-wide  community,  held  together  by  freedom  and  common 
ideas,  and  not,  as  in  times  past,  by  the  ultimate  authority  of 
Britain.  Of  course,  the  British  empire  was  already  far  advanced 
in  the  development  of  freedom  and  self-government.  Because  of 
that  fact  it  could  move  on  still  further  to  achieve  the  Common- 
wealth, a  striking  example  of  a  working  world-partnership  in  an 
age  that  sorely  needs  co-operation  between  its  peoples. 

The  British  empire  had  been  changing  before  the  First  World 
War,  but  that  mighty  conflict  much  increased  the  rate  of  change. 
National  sentiment  in  the  Dominions  was  strengthened  by  their 
war  efforts;  they  had  been  suddenly  called  on  to  undertake  grave 
new  responsibilities  and  had  found  themselves  able  to  meet  the 
challenge.  There  was  a  new  awareness  of  nationality  among  the 
large  bodies  of  Dominion,  troops  overseas,  while,  at  home,  pride 
in  the  fighting  record  of  these  soldiers  roused  a  keener  spirit  of 







nationalism.  That  spirit  was  reflected  in  a  growing  desire  for  a 
fuller  recognition  of  Dominion  rights  in  the  empire.  In  the 
changes  that  followed,  Canada  played  a  leading  part.  Just  as 
Sir  Wilfrid  Laurier  had  stood  for  wider  Dominion  powers  before 
the  war,  so  did  Sir  Robert  Borden  in  the  time  of  battle  and  in  the 
peace  settlement  that  followed. 

One  problem  affecting  the  position  of  Canada  within  the  empire 
during  the  war  revolved  about  the  control  of  Canadian  troops 
overseas.  While  British  military  commanders  at  first  planned  to 
absorb  the  Canadians  into  British  or  imperial  army  formations, 
Borden,  with  Canada  behind  him,  insisted  that  they  be  treated  as 
one  unit — as  a  Canadian  army  formation.  This  demand  was  met 
by  the  establishment  of  the  Canadian  Corps,  into  which  most 
Canadian  troops  were  fitted.  The  Corps  served  in  various 
British  armies  but  kept  its  own  unity  within  them.  After  a  suc- 
cessful career  under  a  British  general,  moreover,  General  Byng,  of 
Vimy  fame,  the  Corps  received  an  able  Canadian  commander  in 
General  Arthur  Currie,  who  led  it  until  the  end  of  the  fighting  in 
the  final  'Hundred  Days'. 

More  significant  than  this  question  of  purely  military  control 
was  the  wider  one  of  the  general  management  of  empire  war 
policy.  This  at  first  was  wholly  in  the  hands  of  the  British  govern- 
ment. Borden  felt  keenly  that  while  Canada  might  put  half  a 
million  men  in  the  field  she  had  no  voice  in  shaping  plans  for 
waging  a  war  in  which  she  was  vitally  concerned.  'Is  this  war'3  he 
asked,  'being  waged  by  the  United  Kingdom  alone,  or  is  it  a  war 
waged  by  the  whole  empire?3  For  some  time  his  protests  received 
sympathy  but  little  more  from  the  British  government.  The  Brit- 
ish authorities  still  held  to  the  principle  that  the  control  of  the 
empire's  external  policy  could  not  be  divided  but  must  remain 
with  Britain.  At  the  Imperial  Conference  of  1911  it  had  been 
agreed  that  the  Dominions  would  be  kept  informed  on  major 
foreign  questions  by  Britain,  but  the  mother  country  was  still  to 
have  sole  direction  of  imperial  foreign  policy. 



By  1916.,  however,  the  Asquith  government  that  had  expressed 
these  views  had  been  replaced  in  Britain  by  a  coalition  under  the 
energetic  Lloyd  George.  Seeking  in  every  way  to  strengthen  and 
reorganize  the  British  war  effort,  at  a  time  when  the  fortunes  of 
war  were  hanging  in  the  balance,  he  sought  as  well  to  urge  the 
Dominions  to  farther  activity.  Therefore  Lloyd  George  was  willing 
to  reconsider  the  problem  of  directing  the  war.,  and  to  meet  the 
stronger  national  feelings  of  the  Dominions  by  forming  an  Im- 
perial War  Cabinet  in  which  they  would  be  represented.  Such  a 
body  was  set  up  in  1917,  and  consisted  of  the  Dominion  prime 
ministers  or  their  representatives  sitting  with  the  British  war 
cabinet,  the  inner  group  of  five  ministers  chosen  to  guide  Britain's 
war  programme.  At  the  same  time  an  Imperial  War  Conference 
was  called  to  consider  ways  of  permanently  reorganizing  the  im- 
perial structure  in  order  to  give  the  Dominions  a  share  in  its 

The  Imperial  War  Cabinet  was  a  weighty  step,  and  was  received 
with  much  enthusiasm  in  Canada  and  in  the  other  Dominions. 
The  Dominions  had  at  last  been  given  a  voice  in  shaping  empire 
policies  that  greatly  affected  their  interests.  It  was,  besides,  an 
answer  to  Borden's  chief  demand  that  if  Canada  took  more  res- 
ponsibilities in  the  world  she  should  in  return  have  greater  rights. 
It  met  his  view  of  nationalism :  that  Canada  should  no  longer  have 
external  policies  made  for  her,  but  should  enter  into  making  them. 
Such  a  plan,  he  believed,  would  give  the  Dominions  full  power  in 
world  affairs  and  yet  would  preserve  an  undivided  imperial  for- 
eign policy.  The  Imperial  War  Conference  endorsed  this  view, 
declaring  that  the  empire  had  become  a  Commonwealth  of  free 
and  equal  members,  who  should  meet  in  'continuous  consulta- 
tion5 to  lay  down  a  common  policy  for  their  relations  with  the 
outside  world. 

During  the  rest  of  the  war  the  Imperial  War  Cabinet  carried 
out  the  plan  of  a  common  imperial  policy  and  'continuous  consul- 
tation', although  Dominion  prime  ministers  could  usually  attend 



its  meetings  only  for  short  periods  at  a  time.  When  the  war  ended 
the  same  plan  was  adopted  for  making  the  Peace  Treaty  of  1919. 
Indeed,  the  Imperial  War  Cabinet  virtually  became  the  'British 
Empire  Delegation'  that  went  to  France  to  work  as  a  unit  at  the 
Versailles  peace  conference.  The  aim.,  in  short,  was  still  to  main- 
tain a  common  imperial  foreign  policy,  in  peace  as  in  war.  Yet 
difficulties  arose  almost  from  the  start,  as  Borden  found  on  his 
return  to  England  after  the  Canadian  conscription  crisis.  Britain 
had  begun  talks  with  France  and  Italy,  without  informing  the 
Dominions,  and  had  hoped  that  Borden  would  serve  on  the  single 
British  Empire  Delegation  as  representative  of  all  the  varied 
Dominion  interests.  Instead  the  Canadian  leader  made  clear  that 
Canada,  at  any  rate,  expected  her  full  share  of  recognition  at  the 
peace  conference  in  view  of  her  notable  role  in  the  war,  especially 
when  small  independent  countries,  which  had  taken  much  less 
part,  would  be  separately  represented.  In  consequence,  all  the 
Dominions  were  given  the  right  of  separate  representation,  al- 
though in  practice  they  continued  as  well  to  sit  on  the  British 
Empire  Delegation,  which  carried  on  the  real  work  of  the  con- 

This  double  role  was  really  a  sign  in  itself  of  the  double  position 
of  the  Dominions — still  half  colonies  and  half  nations.  Yet  it  also 
showed  that  the  idea  of  a  common  imperial  front  was  beginning 
to  lose  its  force  now  that  the  urgent  pressures  of  war  were  re- 
moved. Dominion  nationalism  was  again  making  itself  felt.  This 
time  it  led  further  to  the  separate  signature  of  the  Peace  Treaty 
by  each  Dominion^  although  there  was  also  a  general  signature  for 
the  empire  as  a  whole.  Borden  held  out  as  well  for  the  right  of  the 
Canadian  parliament  to  approve  the  Treaty  for  his  own  country, 
and  this  too  was  accepted.  Nor  were  these  mere  formalities. 
Borden  was  trying  to  gain  recognition  of  Canada's  right  to 
decide  for  herself  on  vital  questions  of  war  and  peace.  These 
powers  of  the  Dominion  to  act  in  matters  of  external  policy 
were  further  increased  when  Borden  won  for  Canada  a  seat  of 



her  own  in  the  new  League  of  Nations  that  was  meant  to  prevent 
another  world  war.  Separate  seats  were  also  given  to  the  other 

Aside  from  these  questions  of  national  standing,  which  Borden 
pressed  firmly,  Canada  was  fairly  quiet  in  the  long  debates  over 
the  terms  of  peace.  She  was  a  small  power,  with  no  desire  to  gain 
territory,  and  sought  only  to  make  a  sound  and  lasting  treaty.  As 
a  result,  though  she  took  only  a  minor  part  in  the  drafting  of  the 
Treaty  of  Versailles,  her  influence  was  a  useful  and  moderating 
one,  and  Borden  played  an  admirable  and  highly  respected  role  on 
various  committees.  But  from  Canada's  viewpoint,  the  important 
points  to  her  were  those  principles  of  national  recognition  that  she 
had  secured  through  her  prime  minister:  the  right  of  signing  and 
approving  the  Peace  Treaty  herself,  the  right  to  sit  as  a  member 
nation  in  the  League  and  the  International  Labour  Organization, 
and  the  right  to  send  her  own  diplomatic  representatives  to  foreign 
countries.  This  last  power  Borden  also  obtained,  although  it  was 
not  exercised  for  several  years. 

In  general,  Borden  had  led  the  way  in  securing  broader  recog- 
nition for  all  the  Dominions,  but  other  Dominion  leaders  had 
shared  largely  in  this  effort,  especially  General  Smuts  of  South 
Africa.  By  1920,  when  ill-health  forced  Borden  to  retire  from 
political  life,  it  could  almost  be  said  that  he  himself  had  given 
Canada  an  established  place  in  world  affairs.  And  by  helping  to 
build  up  the  national  rights  of  all  the  Dominions  he  had  sent  the 
empire  further  on  its  way  to  becoming  the  Commonwealth. 

Yet  in  all  this  development  Sir  Robert  Borden  had  not  for- 
gotten the  idea  of  a  common  imperial  foreign  policy  based  on 
continuous  consultation.  What  he  wanted,  however,  was  to  round 
out  the  rights  of  the  Dominions  as  he  saw  them,  so  that  they  could 
then  join  in  imperial  counsels  with  Britain  on  an  equal  footing. 
He  and  Smuts  both  hoped  to  maintain  a  single  imperial  front  in 
foreign  affairs  through  the  Dominions  entering  freely  into  discus- 
sions to  fix  policies,  which  would  then  be  carried  out  by  the 



British  Foreign  Office.  The  failure  of  this  common-policy  idea, 
after  Borden's  retirement,  led  to  the  full  development  of  the 
Commonwealth  as  it  is  today,  and,  in  other  hands,  to  the  complete 
realization  of  Canadian  nationhood. 

4    Mackenzie  King  and  Nationhood 

On  Sir  Robert  Borden's  retirement,  one  of  his  ablest  lieutenants, 
Arthur  Meighen,  became  prime  minister.  Meighen  was  a  man  of 
undoubted  talent  but  of  firm  and  uncompromising  character,  and 
his  imperialist  leanings  and  strong  conscriptionist  stand  during 
the  wartime  crisis  had  made  him  many  enemies  in  French  Canada. 
He  and  the  Conservative  government  were  swept  from  power  in 
the  first  post-war  election,  in  1921.  In  part,  the  result  was  due  to 
French  Canadian  dislike  of  the  Conservative  conscriptionists,  a 
feeling  which  would  long  affect  the  party's  fortunes.  In  part  as 
well,  it  was  the  natural  swing  away  from  the  wartime  government 
when  post-war  problems  and  grievances  emerged. 

Meighen's  successor  in  office  was  the  new  Liberal  leader, 
William  Lyon  Mackenzie  King.  Laurier  had  died  in  1919,  his 
last  years  darkened  by  the  racial  strife  he  had  always  sought  to 
avoid.  The  man  who  assumed  his  mantle  was  a  devoted  follower 
of  the  great  French  Canadian.  King,  an  Ontario  man,  had  been 
Canada's  first  Minister  of  Labour  in  Laurier's  pre-war  govern- 
ment, and  had  been  out  of  politics  studying  labour  problems  in 
the  United  States  during  much  of  the  war.  He  had  supported 
Laurier  but  was  not  too  involved  in  the  conscription  question:  a 
very  fortunate  thing  for  the  future  of  the  Liberal  party  in  Canada. 
King  had  little  of  Laurier's  charm  of  manner  nor  his  splendid 
powers  of  oratory.  Yet  he  showed  political  skill  matched  only  by 
Macdonald.  This  quiet,  reserved,  plump  little  man  turned  out  to 
be  the  most  successful  party  leader  Canada  has  yet  seen,  and  this 
in  an  era  when  sectional  strains  were  often  acute.  As  a  result,  he 
made  a  period  of  Canadian  history  as  much  his  own  as  Macdonald 
or  Laurier  had  ever  done.  He  governed  the  Dominion  from  1921 



to  I948>  with  only  one  real  break,  the  five  years  from  1930  to  1935 
when  the  Conservatives  returned  to  office. 

Mackenzie  King  held  office  longer  than  any  other  Canadian 
prime  minister  had  done:  longer,  even,  than  any  British  prime 
minister,  for  he  passed  the  old  eighteenth-century  record  of  Sir 
Robert  Walpole.  And  in  this,  Canada's  Walpole  era,  King,  like 
that  famous  English  statesman,  largely  followed  a  passive  policy 
of  'letting  sleeping  dogs  lie'.  It  may  be  argued  that  Canada 
needed  such  a  long  period  of  comparative  inaction  in  government 
to  rebuild  the  national  unity  that  had  been  seriously  strained  at 
home.  But  in  external  affairs,  at  least,  King  pursued  a  very 
definite  policy.  He  worked  to  round  out  national  rights,  in  order 
to  give  Canada  the  complete  status  of  nationhood.  As  his  name 
might  suggest,  William  Lyon  Mackenzie  King  was  a  descendant 
of  the  'little  rebel*.  He  was  Mackenzie's  grandson.  And  King 
seemed  to  feel  a  mission  to  carry  on  the  work  of  his  grandfather. 
Not  that  he  was  in  any  way  a  rebel,  nor  did  he  ever  seek  to  break 
the  tie  with  Britain;  but  he  believed  in  freeing  Canada  from  the 
last  traces  of  colonial  restraints,  restraints  that  his  ancestor  had 
struggled  against  when  they  bore  far  heavier  on  the  country. 

King  believed  that  full  nationhood  must  come  for  the  British 
Dominions.  In  this,  time  has  apparently  proved  him  right,  though 
his  work  itself  did  much  to  make  the  Commonwealth  a  loose 
organization  of  separate  nations.  Yet  it  would  be  wrong  to  call  it 
a  'mere'  association  of  separate  nations.  If  formal  ties  were  re- 
duced to  a  minimum,  the  ties  of  friendship  remained  strong;  and 
King  put  his  faith  in  these.  In  any  case,  he  was  determined  that 
nationhood  should  be  finally  achieved  for  Canada. 

Now  nationhood  is  not  inevitably  a  good  thing  in  itself.  There 
is  no  thought  in  these  pages  that  its  gradual  achievement  is  the 
grand  or  final  theme  in  Canada's  story.  In  many  ways,  besides, 
Canadian  nationhood  is  still  weak,  especially  when  it  comes  to 
trying  to  distinguish  the  Canadian  'national  character'  from  the 
American  Furthermore,  any  blind  worship  of  nationhood  is 



unreal  and  unwise  in  an  age  where  all  parts  of  the  world  are  closely 
tied  to  each  other  and  no  nation  can  afford  to  stand  alone.  Never- 
theless, for  better  or  worse,  the  rise  of  nationalism  has  seemed  to 
play  a  prominent  part  in  the  history  of  peoples,  and  so  it  has  been 
in  Canada's  case.  If  Canadian  nationality  still  has  limits,  the 
growth  of  nationalism  has  formed  an  important  theme  in  Canadian 
history,  at  least  since  Confederation.  And  because  Canadian 
nationalism  arose  within  the  British  empire,  and  grew  gradually 
there,  it  has  seldom  gone  to  the  extremes  of  the  worship  of  inde- 
pendence for  its  own  sake  or  a  belief  in  complete  isolation  from 
the  world.  Nationalism  did  not  destroy  the  British  empire.  It 
changed  it  to  something  new  for  a  new  age;  the  Commonwealth. 
Canada,  therefore,  rose  to  final  nationhood  under  King  without 
withdrawing  from  the  great  world  association;  and  while  this 
national  advance  is  plainly  significant,  it  should  not  be  allowed 
to  overshadow  other  aspects  of  Canadian  development. 

It  might  well  be  asked  why  Canada  at  this  time  pressed  her  ad- 
vance to  nationhood  within  the  Commonwealth  more,  say,  than 
Australia  or  New  Zealand.  The  answer  that  Canadian  national 
feeling  was  more  fully  developed  itself  needs  explanation.  Canada 
was  older  than  the  other  Dominions ;  that  was  one  factor.  Beyond 
this,  however,  Canada  contained  a  large  and  influential  minority 
of  a  non-English-speaking  people,  the  French  Canadians,  who 
were  always  much  more  advanced  in  thinking  on  national  lines, 
and  at  the  same  time  were  suspicious  of  empire  'entanglements'. 
This  naturally  affected  Canadian  policy,  as  the  presence  of  the 
Afrikaner  majority  in  South  Africa  also  shaped  the  nationalistic 
policy  of  that  Dominion. 

Furthermore,  Australia  and  New  Zealand  developed  apart  by 
themselves,  linked  only  to  Britain.  Canada  grew  up  beside  a 
large,  free,  English-speaking  republic  and  had  strong  ties  in  this 
direction  as  well.  In  the  beginning,  the  presence  of  the  United 
States  stimulated  the  early  growth  of  Canadian  nationalism  be- 
cause of  the  challenge  it  set  before  the  weak  northern  colonies. 



In  later,  more  friendly  days  the  powerful  United  States  seemed 
to  provide  extra  security  for  Canada,  in  addition  to  British  sea 
power.  While  Australia  and  New  Zealand,  fearing  rising  new 
powers  in  the  Pacific— first  Germany,  then  Japan— drew  closer 
to  the  empire  and  sought  to  find  security  there,  Canada  felt  much 
more  able  to  follow  her  own  course.  This  had  been  true  under 
Laurier.  Now,  under  King,  the  only  great  sea  menace  to  Canada, 
the  German  navy,  was  gone,  and  her  only  close  neighbour  re- 
mained the  friendly  United  States.  Canadian  nationalism  that 
had  been  so  much  aroused  by  the  war  thus  continued  to  flourish 
in  a  state  of  security. 

There  was  a  feeling  in  post-war  Canada  that  the  problems  of 
Europe  and  the  rest  of  the  world  were  remote,  that  even  the  prob- 
lem of  a  common  imperial  foreign  policy  was  no  longer  of  concern, 
and  that  all  that  mattered  for  the  Dominion  was  the  achievement 
of  complete  freedom  in  international  affairs.  The  Commonwealth 
should  be  maintained:  few  would  still  break  the  old  links  of  tradi- 
tion and  sentiment.  But  there  should  be  no  involvement  in 
quarrels  that  were  not  Canada's,  and  Canada  should  settle  her 
own  policies  for  herself.  To  some  extent  this  was  a  narrow  pro- 
gramme of  isolation,  and  so  it  was  not  wholly  realistic.  Yet  in  the 
disillusion  that  followed  the  war,  when  it  was  seen  that  all  the 
blood  shed  had  in  no  way  solved  the  troubles  of  Europe,  it  was 
a  natural  enough  reaction.  Besides,  this  truly  'Canada  first'  policy 
also  expressed  a  resolve  to  let  the  Dominion  stand  on  its  own  feet, 
to  let  the  world  know  that  Canada  had  come  of  age  and  was  no 
longer  a  colony. 

Canada,  of  course,  had  made  many  practical  gains  towards 
nationhood  under  Borden.  Yet  theory  had  now  to  catch  up  with 
practice.  It  had  to  be  made  clear  what  these  gains  implied,  they 
had  to  be  completed,  and  the  whole  Commonwealth  had  to  be 
redefined  to  fit  the  new  world  standing  of  Canada  and  the  other 
Dominions.  King  took  up  this  project  from  the  start,  though  he 
moved  slowly  and  only  as  particular  questions  arose.  The  first 



thing  to  be  altered  was  the  common  imperial  foreign  policy  that 
Borden  had  believed  in. 

The  system  of  continuous  consultation  and  joint  action  had 
seemed  much  more  possible  during  wartime,  when  close  co- 
operation against  a  common  foe  was  utterly  necessary.  But  once 
that  main  purpose  had  been  removed,  the  Dominions  had  varying 
interests  in  many  different  parts  of  the  world.  The  difficulty  of 
shaping  one  single  imperial  foreign  policy  was  soon  made  appar- 
ent, despite  some  success  in  maintaining  it  at  the  Washington 
Conference  of  1921  on  disarmament.  JQ  1922  Britain  faced  re- 
newed trouble  with  Turkey,  an  enemy  during  the  First  World 
War.  This  was  the  so-called  Chanak  crisis.  The  British  govern- 
ment had  to  take  a  stand  before  the  Dominions  could  be  consulted, 
but  when  it  cabled  Canada  to  ask  for  aid  in  event  of  a  clash,  the 
King  ministry  would  not  commit  the  Dominion  over  an  issue  that 
was  outside  its  knowledge.  The  fact  that  the  request  for  aid  came 
without  warning  and  was  announced  in  the  British  press  before  it 
was  officially  received  in  Canada  added  to  the  feeling  that  Britain 
was  forcing  the  pace  on  a  question  that  was  not  really  of  Canadian 
interest.  As  a  result,  the  King  government's  unwillingness  to  act 
caused  a  breach  in  the  idea  of  a  common  imperial  policy.  The 
breach  went  further  in  the  Treaty  of  Lausanne,  shortly  reached 
with  Turkey.  Canada  declared  that  since  she  had  not  been  a  party 
to  making  this  agreement  she  would  not  consider  herself  bound 
by  it.  The  old  unity  of  the  empire  in  diplomatic  affairs  was  coming 
to  an  end. 

That  fact  was  made  even  plainer  in  1923,  when  Canada  signed 
the  Halibut  Treaty  with  the  United  States  in  her  own  right,  with- 
out the  formal  addition  of  the  British  minister's  signature,  which 
had  previously  been  the  rule.  Then  the  Imperial  Conference  of 
that  year,  instead  of  working  out  a  permanent  basis  for  a  common 
imperial  policy,  as  had  earlier  been  expected,  affirmed  the  general 
right  of  Dominions  to  make  treaties  with  foreign  states.  Canada 
had  thus  obtained  a  most  necessary  power  for  conducting  her  own 



foreign  relations.  At  the  same  time  the  plan  of  the  common  im- 
perial policy  based  on  continuous  consultation  was  finally  aban- 
doned. The  nations  of  the  Commonwealth,  of  course,  might  still 
co-operate  and  consult  with  one  another  as  need  arose,  but  the 
fact  that  these  nations  had  varied  interests  was  now  definitely 
recognized.  Each  member  of  the  Commonwealth  would  hence- 
forth conduct  its  own  foreign  policy  as  far  as  it  desired,  a  principle 
pressed  by  King  and  Herzog  of  South  Africa. 

By  now  it  was  plainly  necessary  to  draw  up  a  definition  of  the 
developing  Commonwealth  and  to  make  whatever  changes  were 
required  in  the  imperial  system  of  government  to  suit  the  much- 
altered  state  of  affairs.  This  important  problem  was  dealt  with  in 
1926  at  the  next  Imperial  Conference,  which  produced  the  Balfour 
Report.  The  Balfour  Report,  the  foundation-stone  of  the  modern 
Commonwealth,  declared  the  members  of  that  association  to  be 
'equal  in  status,  in  no  way  subordinate  one  to  another,5  though 
united  by  a  common  allegiance  to  the  Crown  and  working  together 
in  complete  freedom.  'Every  self-governing  member  of  the  Em- 
pire is  now  the  master  of  its  destiny.' 

A  number  of  recommendations  were  then  made  in  the  Report 
in  order  to  make  this  new  declaration  of  equal  partnership  a 
reality.  Henceforth  the  Governor-General  of  a  Dominion  should 
clearly  represent  only  the  great  unifying  symbol  of  the  crown,  not 
the  British  government  in  any  way.  Any  Dominion  which  did  not 
enter  in  the  making  of  a  treaty  would  not  be  bound  by  it.  And 
various  legal  problems  which  remained  were  set  forth  for  refer- 
ence to  committees  of  Commonwealth  lawyers  and  experts  for 
study  and  settlement.  In  1930  the  experts'  views  on  these  ques- 
tions were  put  before  a  further  Imperial  Conference,  which  adop- 
ted their  proposals.  The  year  after  they  were  enacted  into  law  by 
the  British  parliament  in  the  Statute  of  Westminster.  The  Statute 
recognized  rather  than  established  the  new  Commonwealth,  but 
in  so  doing  made  it  a  legal  fact. 

The  Statute  of  Westminster  of  193 1,  which  has  been  termed  the 



Magna  Carta  of  the  Commonwealth,  fulfilled  the  Balfour  Report 
and  made  legal  changes  necessary  to  effect  the  Dominions' 
new  position  of  equality  with  the  mother  country.  It  repealed  the 
Colonial  Laws  Validity  Act  of  1865  which  had  declared  that  in  the 
event  of  any  conflict,  a  British  law  was  to  override  a  colonial  law, 
and  henceforth  Dominions  might  alter  any  imperial  law  in  force 
within  their  borders;  it  granted  the  Dominions  control  over 
their  own  merchant  shipping  and  in  general  gave  them  the  full 
powers  of  nationhood  in  the  field  of  law.  There  was  still  some 
imperial  authority  left.  Only  Britain  still  could  pass  laws  for  all 
the  Commonwealth,  though  these  would  only  apply  to  a  Dominion 
with  its  consent.  The  British  parliament  was  still  entrusted  with 
the  power  to  amend  the  Canadian  constitution,  although  the 
amending  power  remained  because  Canada  had  not  yet  decided 
how  to  use  it  herself,  and  it  would  only  be  exercised  at  Canada's 
request.  The  Judicial  Committee  of  the  imperial  Privy  Council 
was  still  generally  maintained  as  a  final  court  for  deciding  certain 
classes  of  legal  cases,  although  again  this  arrangement  rested  on 
the  consent  of  the  Dominions.  But  on  the  whole  the  Statute  of 
Westminster  completed  the  development  of  Dominion  nation- 
hood, and,  for  Canada,  filled  out  her  national  powers  while  keeping 
her  within  the  free  circle  of  the  Commonwealth. 

Canada's  new  world  standing  was  meanwhile  being  rounded  out 
in  other  directions  as  well  as  on  legal  lines.  She  began  official  dip- 
lomatic relations  with  other  countries  of  the  world.  In  1926  the 
first  Canadian  minister  was  sent  to  the  United  States,  and  by  1930 
Canadian  diplomatic  posts  had  been  established  in  France  and 
Japan,  two  world  powers  with  which  Canada  had  important  con- 
nections. Canada  had  long  had  a  High  Commissioner  in  London, 
but  in  recognition  of  the  new  equal  Commonwealth  relationship 
a  British  High  Commissioner  was  sent  to  Ottawa  and  later  Canada 
exchanged  High  Commissioners  with  the  other  Dominions.  Of 
course,  it  remained  true  that  Britain  and  the  Dominions  were 
'equal  in  status  but  not  in  stature' j  that  is,  that  Britain  and  Canada, 



for  example.,  were  equal  in  national  standing  but  not  in  power  and 
influence  in  the  world. 

There  were  still  changes  to  come  in  the  Commonwealth  and  in 
Canada's  relation  to  it;  but  on  all  important  points  the  develop- 
ment was  complete.  Nationhood  at  last  had  been  achieved.  It  had 
been  won  not  by  revolution  and  separation  but  by  a  process  of 
careful  discussion  and  gradual  growth.  The  benefits  of  friendship 
and  trust,  frequent  consultation  and  free  co-operation  had  not 
been  lost.  These  invisible  bonds  of  the  Commonwealth  would 
prove  their  value  in  the  Second  World  War.  In  the  evolution  of 
the  great  world  partnership  Canada  had  taken  a  major  part.  In- 
deed, it  had  really  begun  when  Canada  first  won  responsible 
government  on  British  lines.  From  the  days  of  Robert  Baldwin 
to  those  of  Laurier,  Borden,  and  King,  Canadians  had  not  only 
been  shaping  their  own  nationhood.  They  had  been  building  the 
Commonwealth  as  well. 


CHAPTER    l8 


i    Post-War  Growth  and  Renewed  Sectionalism 

After  the  First  World  War  there  was  a  short  post-war  boom 
followed  by  a  three-year  slump  in  trade.  Then  in  1923  began  a 
bright  flush  of  prosperity  that  lasted  until  late  in  1929,  when  the 
'great  crash3  occurred.  A  long  and  ruinous  world  depression  fol- 
lowed in  the  I93o's,  but  during  the  booming  'twenties  Canada 
seemed  to  have  returned  to  the  Laurier  era  of  rapid  advance.  And 
many  features  of  the  development  under  Laurier  continued  into 
the  post-war  years.  Immigration  went  on,  reaching  a  peak  of 
165,000  in  1929.  Still  more  western  farms  were  taken  up,  and 
Alberta  and  Saskatchewan  grew  steadily.  New  strains  of  wheat 
pushed  the  grain  frontier  into  the  northern  half  of  these  provinces, 
while  bumper  wheat  crops  in  the  'twenties  kept  the  east-west 
trade  system  running  busily.  Canada,  apparently,  was  launched 
again  on  the  limitless  Laurier  boom. 

Yet  there  were  differences  in  the  post-war  scene.  The  Laurier 
period  had  really  completed  Canada's  advance  across  the  con- 
tinent. She  could  not  go  on  advancing  for  ever;  western  farmlands 
were  not  limitless.  Already,  under  the  encouragement  of  wartime 
demands,  farms  had  spread  too  far  into  areas  that  were  really 
grazing  country,  as  in  the  dry  Talliser's  Triangle'  of  south- 
western Saskatchewan  and  south-eastern  Alberta.  Here  a  pro- 
longed drought  could  spell  disaster.  It  could  turn  the  powdery 
soil,  stripped  of  protecting  grass  roots,  into  whirling  clouds  of 
dust.  Furthermore,  the  railways,  whose  building  had  played  so 
large  a  part  in  pre-war  prosperity,  were  in  constant  difficulties 
after  the  war.  The  Canadian  Pacific  was  paying  its  way,  but  the 
government's  Canadian  National  was  in  trouble  even  in  boom 



times,  both  because  of  the  debts  it  inherited  and  because  of  the 
expense  of  keeping  up  many  miles  of  track  that  did  not  pay  but 
were  necessary  to  the  people  who  settled  along  the  line. 

On  the  other  hand,  many  features  of  the  post-war  growth  were 
new,  or  had  been  much  less  important  in  the  earlier  period.  The 
greatest  developments  were  not  in  wheat  farming  but  in  manufac- 
tures, minerals,  pulp-wood  and  newsprint.  The  most  striking 
advance  was  not  in  the  prairie  West  but  in  the  North,  especially 
in  the  semi-barren  Shield.  And  the  conquering  gods  of  the  new 
era  were  not  the  steam  engine  and  the  railway,  but  oil,  electric 
power,  the  automobile  and  the  aeroplane.  Finally,  the  old  Canada 
of  farms  and  frontier  settlement  was  passing  away.  To  the  north 
ky  a  broader  frontier  than  there  had  ever  been  before,  but  it  was 
being  mastered  by  the  aeroplane  and  it  did  not  invite  settlement. 
The  majority  of  the  Canadians  were  becoming  a  race  of  towns- 
men. In  the  I92o's  the  Dominion's  urban  population  passed  that 
of  the  countryside,  and  most  of  the  city-dwellers  were  found  in 
the  two  main  industrial  provinces  of  Ontario  and  Quebec. 

But  these  post-war  developments  were  of  high  importance. 
They  gave  Canada  a  more  balanced,  stable  way  of  life,  less  depen- 
dent on  the  ups  and  downs  of  the  world  market.  They  gave  her 
new  staple  exports  besides  wheat.  The  post-war  period  saw  the 
steady  rise  of  gold,  copper,  nickel,  and  other  base  metals,  and  of 
pulp  wood  and  newsprint.  These  new  staples,  however,  travelled 
more  on  north-south  lines  than  along  the  east-west  system.  Their 
main  markets  were  in  the  United  States.  Britain  remained  Can- 
ada's chief  outlet  for  the  older  products  of  farming,  but  the  high 
value  of  the  new  products  meant  that  in  1921  the  United  States 
took  a  slight  lead  to  become  Canada's  best  customer  once  more, 
despite  the  high  American  tariff  wall. 

The  rise  of  new  staples  brought  developments  all  over  Canada. 
Along  the  Appalachian  ridges  and  across  the  Shield  lumbering 
took  a  new  lease  on  life,  this  time  devoting  itself  to  the  thick  soft- 
wood forests,  to  cut  for  wood-pulp.  Large  pulp-mills  sprang  up 



in  the  North,  driven  by  the  plentiful  water-power  of  these  hilly 
regions.  Whole  new  towns  appeared  among  the  rocks  and  birches 
of  northern  New  Brunswick  or  northern  Ontario  and  Quebec. 
The  gold  of  Noranda  in  northern  Quebec,  the  asbestos  carved 
from  open  pits  in  the  Eastern  Townships,  the  copper  and  nickel 
of  Copper  Cliff,  Ontario,  the  oil  of  Turner  Valley,  Alberta,  the 
lead,  zinc,  and  copper  of  the  Kootenay  region  in  the  mountains 
of  British  Columbia — all  these  brought  tremendous  advances  in 
the  realm  of  mining.  The  list  seems  endless :  gold  at  Flin-Flon  in 
northern  Manitoba,  in  the  Porcupine  and  Kirkland  Lake  regions 
of  northern  Ontario,  radium  and  uranium  mined  at  Great  Bear 
Lake,  high  in  the  North  West  Territories,  and  shipped  out  by  air; 
suffice  it  to  say  that  the  endless  rock  barrens  of  northern  Canada 
had  turned  into  a  national  treasure  chest. 

Another  important  advance  came  with  the  wide  development 
of  hydro-electric  power,  which  in  Ontario,  under  the  province- 
owned  Hydro-Electric  Power  Commission,  gave  the  province  one 
of  the  cheapest  and  most  efficient  supplies  of  electricity  in  the 
world.  The  building  of  automobile  highways  that  linked  up  the 
settled  parts  of  Canada  far  more  effectively  was  another  feature  of 
this  prosperous  period.  So  was  the  amazing  rise  of  cbush  flying', 
which  carried  even  bulky  machinery  into  the  roadless  North  and 
brought  Canada  the  world's  heaviest  air  freight-traffic.  And 
through  the  air  the  conquest  of  northern  distances  became  pos- 
sible. Hudson's  Bay  posts,  missions  to  the  Eskimos,  and  radio 
weather  stations,  that  were  now  extended  to  the  shores  of  the 
Arctic  Ocean  and  the  islands  beyond,  were  linked  by  the  aero- 
plane. Steamboats  to  the  Arctic  on  the  long  Mackenzie  river  in 
the  summer  and  tractor-driven  sleigh-trains  in  the  winter  supplied 
heavier  transportation  for  this  new  Far  North.  The  Arctic  really 
entered  Canadian  history  for  the  first  time,  in  terms  of  furs,  oi!5 
gold,  and  other  minerals. 

Yet  much  of  this  post-war  growth  tended  to  cut  across  the  east- 
west  unity  of  Canada  and  was  felt  unevenly  in  the  different  regions. 



The  northern  development,  for  example.,  chiefly  benefited  the 
provinces  of  Ontario  and  Quebec  and  the  powerful  business 
interests  concentrated  there.  Toronto  built  a  great  mining  empire 
in  northern  Ontario,  but  its  connections  generally  ran  north  and 
south,  strengthening  regionalism,  not  the  east-west  system  of 
Canada.  Vancouver  and  British  Columbia  flourished,  especially 
after  the  opening  of  the  Panama  Canal  in  1913  gave  the  Pacific 
port  a  good  sea-way  to  the  markets  of  Europe.  But,  as  a  result, 
Vancouver  began  to  drain  part  of  the  western  prairies'  trade  into 
this  sea-way,  competing  with  the  railway  links  across  the  con- 
tinent to  the  East.  The  Pacific  coast  and  central  Canada  were 
thriving  as  separate  regions.  Other  parts  of  the  Dominion  were 
not  doing  as  well. 

The  prairies  were  still  growing,  but  plainly  not  at  the  same 
rate  as  these  other  sections.  Their  own  hope  of  a  short  sea-way 
to  Europe,  led  to  the  building  of  a  railway  from  the  plains  to 
Churchill  on  Hudson  Bay.  But  this  northern  route,  however, 
facing  ice  dangers,  a  short  season,  and  high  shipping  charges,  did 
not  develop  successfully.  At  the  same  time  the  Maritimes  were 
again  feeling  themselves  the  step-children  of  Confederation.  They 
were  sharing  little  of  the  post-war  development;  in  fact,  they  were 
dose  to  depression.  The  division  was  sharpening  between  'have* 
and  'have-not'  sections  of  Canada. 

The  Maritimes  were  still  facing  their  old  problem,  the  fact  that 
they  had  few  resources  left  to  develop  after  the  age  of  wooden 
ships  had  passed  away.  Their  area  was  small,  good  farmland  was 
limited,  and  while  Nova  Scotia  had  excellent  supplies  of  coal, 
that  in  itself  was  not  sufficient  to  bring  industry  to  this  outlying 
region  of  the  continent.  The  Atlantic  provinces  still  relied  heavily 
on  the  fisheries,  but  since  the  war  fish  prices  had  been  low.  The 
wartime  boom  at  the  ports  of  Halifax  and  Saint  John  was  over, 
the  steel  shipbuilding  industry  that  had  been  started  was  closing 
down.  Though  Prince  Edward  Island  was  by  now  fairly  well 
adjusted  to  a  quiet  but  contented  farming  way  of  life,  and  though 



coal  mines  and  steel  mills  on  Cape  Breton  Island  helped  Nova 
Scotia,  the  Maritimes  on  the  whole  were  almost  at  a  standstill. 

Thus  it  was  that  a  movement  developed  in  the  1920*8  for 
'Maritime  Rights'.  The  Maritimes  blamed  the  tariff  structure  for 
building  up  central  Canada  at  their  expense,  and  charged,  too, 
that  Dominion  governments  generally  had  paid  little  attention  to 
their  special  problems.  They  took  a  strong  stand  on  the  powers  of 
provinces  in  Confederation,  claiming  that  the  Dominion  had  over- 
stepped the  proper  limits  of  its  authority.  The  King  government 
thereupon  appointed  a  Royal  Commission  to  investigate  Maritime 
grievances,  and  on  its  report  in  1927  moved  to  solve  the  problem 
in  the  typical  way;  by  granting  new  subsidies  to  the  Atlantic  pro- 
vinces. This  disposed  of  the  provincial  rights  question  in  the  East 
for  the  time  being,  but  more  serious  sectional  movements  were 
developing  in  the  prairie  West. 

These  movements  in  part  centred  around  the  'Natural  Re- 
sources Question5,  which  was  pressed  by  all  three  prairie  prov- 
vinces.  At  Confederation  the  old  provinces  had  kept  control  of 
their  natural  resources — lands,  forests,  minerals — but  in  the  case 
of  the  new  provinces  of  Manitoba,  Saskatchewan,  and  Alberta 
that  had  been  erected  out  of  the  North  West  Territories,  the  con- 
trol of  their  resources  had  stayed  with  the  Dominion.  This  was 
done  to  give  the  Dominion  a  fund  for  developing  the  western 
country.  Through  railway  land-grants,  for  example,  it  had  used 
western  land  to  help  pay  the  Canadian  Pacific  Railway  for  building 
its  line.  In  the  1920*8,  however,  when  so  much  development  of 
natural  resources  was  going  on,  especially  in  lumbering  and  min- 
ing, the  three  prairie  provinces  demanded  control  of  their  own 
resources.  The  Dominion  gave  way,  but  the  whole  question 
helped  strengthen  sectional  feeling. 

More  important  in  the  long  run  for  the  re-emergence  of  sec- 
tionalism was  the  growth  of  a  western  farm  movement  in  post-war 
politics.  Prairie  farmers  objected  generally  to  the  costs  of  the 
tariff  and  railway  rates.  They  felt  that  the  West  was  paying  to 



fatten  the  East,  There  were  besides  numerous  particular  griev- 
ances against  the  eastern  powers  that  handled  western  trade: 
against  railway  companies.,  large  industrial  corporations,  banks 
and  financial  houses.  After  the  war,  the  high  prke  of  wheat,  the 
result  of  great  wartime  demands,  had  dropped  sharply.  Yet  the 
debts  that  the  farmer  had  incurred  to  expand  his  wartime  produc- 
tion still  had  to  be  paid  at  high  rates  of  interest.  The  government 
Wheat  Board,  moreover,  which  had  marketed  his  crops  during  the 
war,  was  brought  to  an  end  in  1920,  and  the  prairie  fanner  felt  he 
was  completely  in  the  hands  of  eastern  business,  which  paid  him 
low  prices  but  fixed  high  charges  in  return.  The  western  sense  of 
grievance  grew.  Farmers  began  to  organize  political  parties  to 
oppose  the  'big  interests'  of  the  East. 

This  mounting  farm  revolt  was  backed  as  well  by  eastern  far- 
mers, who  shared  many  of  the  same  grievances  against  the  power 
of  business.  It  was,  indeed,  an  eastern  farmers'  party  that  first 
won  political  victory  in  Ontario  in  1919.  Yet  all  things  considered, 
the  farm  revolt  was  more  deeply  rooted  in  the  West.  Its  effects 
were  more  enduring  and  more  widely  felt  in  the  prairies,  the 
greatest  farming  region  in  Canada.  Thus  the  spirit  of  western 
sectionalism  loomed  large  behind  the  farmers'  movement  and  the 
new  political  parties  that  developed  from  it. 

2    New  Currents  in  Politics 

The  rise  of  new  parties  in  the  period  between  two  World  Wars 
challenged  the  hold  of  the  two  old  parties  on  Canadian  political 
life  for  the  first  time  since  Confederation.  Some  of  the  new 
groups  tended  to  fade  as  quickly  as  they  had  grown,  and  in  any 
case  the  Liberals  and  Conservatives  managed  to  keep  to  the  fore. 
They  were  firmly  rooted  throughout  the  Dominion  and  stood  for 
national  unity.  The  new  organizations  were  tied  more  closely  to 
sectional  interests  and  might  be  strong  in  one  region  but  very 
weak  in  others.  Hence  they  never  captured  national  power.  Yet 
by  the  1930*5  there  would  be  three  and  even  four  parties  in  federal 



politics,  quite  aside  from  successful  new  groups  in  the  provincial 
field.  Clearly  there  were  fresh  currents  stirring  in  the  Canadian 
political  stream,  and  some  of  them  would  have  lasting  influence. 

At  the  close  of  the  First  World  War  in  Canada  there  was  a 
growing  demand  for  new  goals  in  politics.  There  was  an  upsurge 
of  democratic  feeling  after  cthe  war  to  make  the  world  safe  for 
democracy' ;  there  was  new  hope  of  progress,  and,  at  the  same  time, 
a  desire  for  broad  government  social  policies  that  would  improve 
the  welfare  of  the  people  and  balance  the  scales  for  the  ordinary 
citizen  in  a  world  where  wealth  had  so  much  power.  On  the 
whole,  before  1914,  Canadian  politics  had  been  far  less  con- 
cerned with  democratic  progress  or  social  advance  than  with  the 
problems  of  developing  half  a  continent.  Canada  seemed  to  have 
plenty  of  room  to  expand,  and  rather  accepted  the  North  American 
idea  of  'go  west,  young  man'  as  the  answer  to  the  troubles  of 
society.  The  governments,  furthermore,  had  not  sought  to  check 
the  power  of  private  wealth  but  had  worked  in  partnership  with 
it  in  order  to  develop  the  country.  In  general,  they  had  given  the 
large  business  interests  a  free  hand. 

By  the  end  of  the  First  World  War,  however,  it  was  becoming 
clear  that  conditions  of  life  in  Canada  were  changing.  The  era  of 
easy  growth  was  ending;  there  was  very  little  of  the  £last,  best 
West'  left  for  the  young  man  to  go  to.  There  were  still  many  lines 
for  development;  but  most  of  these  lay  in  industry  or  the  mining 
North,  and  took  money — which  usually  returned  to  business  inter- 
ests or  to  controlling  companies  in  the  United  States.  More  and 
more  Canadians  were  living  in  towns  and  working  in  factories. 
Accordingly,  as  the  old  open  horizons  closed  down,  demands  arose 
for  new  policies  that  would,  above  all,  favour  the  mass  of  the 
people  more  than  powerful  special  groups.  The  core  of  these  de- 
mands was  for  more  state  action  to  serve  the  public  interest. 
Wider  state  ownership  of  necessary  services  or  utilities,  such  as 
railways  and  power  plants,  heavier  taxes  on  profits  and  large  in- 
comes, old-age  pensions,  labour  laws,  health  measures :  these  were 



but  some  of  the  new  goals  in  politics  that  emerged  between  the 

The  rising  labour  movement  supplied  another  new  force  in 
Canadian  life.  It  first  became  important  in  this  period  between 
the  wars.  There  had  been  trade  unions  in  Canada  long  before,  and 
in  1886  a  national  Trades  and  Labour  Congress  had  been  estab- 
lished. But  union  membership  had  been  small  for  many  years, 
since  so  many  factory  workers  stayed  outside,  especially  among 
the  Catholic,  conservative-minded  French  Canadians.  With  the 
growth  of  industry  during  the  First  World  War,  however,  union 
membership  doubled.  And  afterwards,  the  unemployment  caused 
by  shifting  from  war  to  peace  production,  and  the  removal  of  war- 
time price  controls  while  living  costs  soared,  brought  much  work- 
ing-class discontent.  There  were  exciting  ideas  abroad  as  well, 
stemming  from  the  recent  Russian  Revolution,  or  from  the  plan 
of 'One  Big  Union'  to  overcome  the  power  of  big  business  by  the 
massed  power  of  labour.  Eastern  union  leadership  remained 
cautious;  but  some  western  unions,  impatient  at  this  restraint  and 
aroused  by  the  O.B.U.  idea,  hoped  for  a  nation-wide  strike  to 
overthrow  private  business.  A  strike  among  metal  workers  in 
Winnipeg  in  1919  actually  spread  to  city-wide  proportions, 
though  it  was  severely  repressed  by  frightened  local  authorities, 
backed  by  the  Dominion  government,  which  feared  red  revolu- 
tion. These  extreme  fears  were  groundless;  the  great  mass  of 
Canadian  labour  was  very  far  from  revolutionary.  Yet  it  was  stir- 
ring in  politics,  and  this  current  would  run  on  into  the  future. 
One  sign  of  it  was  the  election  of  several  Labour  members  to  pro- 
vincial legislatures. 

Meanwhile  the  farm  discontent  was  taking  shape,  in  the  East 
as  in  the  West.  In  1918  the  Canadian  Council  of  Agriculture,  the 
national  association  of  farmers,  issued  what  it  called  the  'New 
NationalPolicy*.  This  was  along,  detailed  document  whichattacked 
the  protective  tariff  as  creating  powerful  privileged  groups  and 
demanded  tariff  reductions,  taxes  on  business  profits,  the  public 



ownership  of  utilities,  and  political  reforms  to  strengthen  the 
power  of  democracy.  Here  was  a  programme  which  had  a  wide 
appeal,  not  only  within  farm  ranks.  It  expressed  many  of  the  new 
currents  in  Canada  and  it  soon  led  to  action.  The  first  move  came 
in  Ontario,  where  the  farmers  quickly  organized  themselves  for 
the  provincial  election  of  1919.  In  that  year  the  United  Farmers 
of  Ontario,  supported  by  many  besides  farmers,  swept  the  polls 
and  installed  a  U.F.O.  government  at  Toronto  under  E.  C.  Drury. 
In  the  general  mood  of  excitement  and  unrest,  strong  United  Far- 
mers parties  sprang  up  in  the  prairie  provinces,  and  weaker  ones 
in  the  Maritimes. 

Building  on  all  these  movements,  the  Canadian  Council  of  Agri- 
culture called  a  convention  at  Winnipeg  in  1920.  There  was 
launched  a  new  Dominion  party,  the  National  Progressive  Party, 
backed  by  all  the  United  Farmer  groups.  Its  leader  was  T.  A. 
Crerar  of  Manitoba,  its  programme  the  New  National  Policy.  The 
next  year  Progressivism  went  into  a  Dominion  election,  and  with 
wide  popular  support  did  so  well  in  its  first  try  that,  although  the 
Liberals  won,  the  Progressives  displaced  the  Conservatives  as  the 
second  largest  group  in  parliament. 

Progressivism  did  not  keep  up  the  pace.  In  1919  the  Liberals 
under  Mackenzie  King,  who  had  studied  and  written  on  labour 
and  social  problems,  had  themselves  adopted  a  programme  to  meet 
the  new  demands  of  the  time,  calling  for  tariff  reductions  and 
social  welfare  measures.  The  scheme  was  not  as  sweeping  as  the 
Progressives',  and  in  office  the  Liberals  were  strangely  slow  in 
carrying  it  out.  Yet  King  could  argue  that  his  aims  were  really 
the  same  as  the  Progressives',  and  they  preferred  to  work  with  him 
rather  than  with  the  Conservatives.  As  a  result  they  lost  much  of 
their  own  sense  of  purpose,  A  split  developed  within  the  party 
between  those  who  argued  that  it  was  better  to  side  with  the 
Liberals  and  push  them  onward  into  reform  and  those  who  in- 
sisted that  Progressivism  should  stand  apart  and  work  solely  as  a 
farmers'  movement. 



Dissension  grew,  and  Progressivism  rapidly  declined.  The  elec- 
tors were  discouraged  by  the  new  party's  failure  to  achieve  any- 
thing on  its  own.  The  U.F.O.  government  fell  in  Ontario  in  1923 
and  the  Dominion  election  of  1926  practically  killed  the  National 
Progressives  as  an  effective  party.  The  fanners  had  never  linked 
themselves  successfully  with  labour,  Progressivism  had  never 
penetrated  French  Canada,  and  it  had  been  weak  in  the  Mari- 
times.  But  if  the  Progressive  movement  faded  in  eastern  Canada 
it  fared  better  in  the  West.  There  the  United  Farmers  parties  sur- 
vived in  provincial  politics.  A  U.F.  A.  Government  ruled  Alberta 
until  1935.  On  the  national  level,  however,  many  of  the  remaining 
Progressive  members,  including  Crerar,  were  absorbed  into  the 
Liberal  party. 

The  period  of  high  prosperity  between  1923  and  1929,  which 
revived  farm  prices,  helped  also  to  still  the  general  demand  for 
new  social  policies,  at  least  for  the  time  being.  Yet  the  spirit  of 
Progressivism  remained  alive  in  the  prairies.  A  movement  for  co- 
operative societies  spread  among  the  farmers  as  a  means  of  escap- 
ing some  of  the  control  of  eastern  business.  Spurred  on  by  men 
like  Henry  Wise  Wood,  leader  of  the  United  Farmers  of  Alberta, 
they  organized  'Wheat  Pools'  among  themselves  to  market  their 
grain  jointly  and  replace  the  lost  Wheat  Board.  And  the  enthusi- 
asm for  more  advanced  democratic  and  social  ideas  remained 
strong  in  this  western  region. 

Then  in  the  I93o's  came  the  blackest  depression  ever  to  hit 
Canada.  In  its  long,  hard  years  the  demand  for  social  changes 
arose  with  new  force  all  across  the  nation.  Once  again  it  was 
strongest  in  the  West,  which  in  many  ways  suffered  most  from 
the  depression.  In  Alberta  the  U.F.A.  government  fell  in  1935 
before  a  more  radical  movement,  that  of  Social  Credit.  Social 
Credit  is  based  on  a  plan  to  redistribute  the  wealth  of  a  com- 
munity gradually  through  "social  dividends'  paid  to  its  members 
by  the  government.  Under  William  Aberhart,  Social  Credit  began 
in  Alberta  by  promising  dividends  of  $25  a  month;  but  though  it 



failed  to  fulfil  its  promise,  Aberharfs  vigorous  leadership  and 
Alberta's  firm  rejection  of  both  old  parties  helped  to  keep  a  Social 
Credit  government  in  control  of  the  province.  Similarly  Social 
Credit  controlled  Alberta's  block  of  seats  in  the  Dominion  parlia- 
ment, though  for  some  time  it  made  little  headway  elsewhere.  On 
the  whole,  therefore,  it  remained  a  distinctly  Albertan  experiment. 
Alberta,  it  is  said,  likes  to  be  different. 

A  more  important  new  party,  which  also  developed  on  the 
prairies  in  the  depressed  early  'thirties,  was  the  Co-operative 
Commonwealth  Federation,  or  C.C.F.  To  a  considerable  extent 
the  C.C.F.  was  built  on  old  Progressive  foundations,  since  it  was 
backed  by  the  United  Fanners  of  Alberta  and  other  western  far- 
mer organizations.  Thus  far  it  was  another  expression  of  the  farm 
revolt,  of  the  long-felt  western  grievances  against  the  power  of  big 
business  that  had  revived  tenfold  in  the  bleakness  of  depression 
years.  Yet  the  new  party  also  had  strong  ties  with  the  labour 
movement,  for  working-class  groups  in  the  four  western  provinces 
shared  in  its  formation.  Beyond  this,  the  C.C.F.  was  new,  indeed. 
It  was  a  socialist  party.  It  stood  not  only  for  more  government 
controls  but  for  government  ownership  of  major  industries,  finance, 
and  utilities,  and  not  only  for  certain  social  measures  but  for  over- 
all social  planning. 

In  one  sense  the  C.C.F.,  backed  as  it  was  by  labour  organiza- 
tions, was  Canada's  version  of  Britain's  Labour  party.  Its  social- 
ist principles  came  chiefly  from  British  Labour  thought.  It,  too, 
believed  in  the  British  parliamentary  system  and  gradual,  peaceful 
progress  to  the  goal  of  socialism.  It  turned  its  back  on  communism 
and  the  tiny  communist  party  that  made  only  minor  and  temporary 
gains  in  Canada  during  the  depression.  But  if  the  C.C.F.  followed 
British  Labour  in  ideas,  it  was  distinctly  North  American  in  its 
descent  from  Progressrvism  and  its  deep-rooted  western  farm 
support.  Though  the  party  made  headway  in  British  Columbia 
ports  and  mines  and  in  Ontario  factories,  its  strength  continued 
to  centre  in  the  prairies,  particularly  in  Saskatchewan. 


It  was  here  at  the  provincial  capital  of  Regina  in  1933  tibat  the 
C.C.F.  issued  its  definite  platform.  This,  the  Regina  Manifesto, 
set  forth  a  short-run  programme  to  meet  depression  problems  and 
a  long-range  plan  for  socialism.  The  few  Progressives  left  in  parlia- 
ment joined  the  C.C.F.,  and  the  party  entered  both  federal  and 
provincial  politics.  Its  federal  leader  was  J.  S.  Woodsworth,  a 
Methodist  minister  turned  social  reformer,  who  had  sat  as  a 
Labour  member  from  Winnipeg  after  making  his  name  during 
the  Winnipeg  strike  of  1919  as  editor  of  the  strikers5  newspaper. 

Under  Woodsworth^ahigh-mindedjUniversallyrespectedleader^ 
the  C.C.F.  firmly  established  itself  in  national  politics.  Yet  it  did 
not  grow  to  anything  like  the  size  of  the  two  old  parties  in  parlia- 
ment. One  reason  for  this  limited  growth  was  the  fact  that  many 
trade  unionists  still  rejected  socialism.,  especially  in  the  East,  where 
dwelt  the  bulk  of  the  working  class.  While  the  C.C.F.  received 
a  significant  amount  of  labour  support,  it  thus  could  not  make  the 
thorough-going  connection  with  trade  unionism  that  had  proved 
so  valuable  to  the  British  Labour  party.  In  addition,  the  C.C.F. 
made  no  headway  in  French  Canada,  where  the  powerful  Catholic 
church  frowned  on  socialism.  And  no  national  party  can  really 
hope  to  control  Canada  without  some  measure  of  French  Canadian 

French  Canada  was  producing  its  own  new  party  in  the  depres- 
sion of  the  1930*8.  This  was  a  wholly  provincial  party;  and  it  came 
on  the  conservative  right  rather  than  on  the  radical  left,  when 
another  upsurge  of  conservative-minded  French  Canadian  nation- 
alism created  the  Union  Nationale  in  Quebec.  The  new  group 
practically  replaced  the  Conservative  party  in  provincial  politics, 
for  the  Quebec  Conservatives  had  never  recovered  in  French 
Canada  from  their  party's  stand  on  conscription.  Yet  this  latest 
nationalist  movement  was  somewhat  different  because  it  was 
closely  related  to  the  rise  of  industrialism  in  the  province  of 
Quebec.  Since  the  First  World  War  the  spread  of  industry  had 
been  transforming  the  old  rural  world  of  New  France  into  a 



region  of  crowded  cities  and  great  factories.  Quebec  was  going 
through  the  strains  of  the  industrial  revolution.  And  then  on  top 
of  these  were  added  the  problems  of  trade  depression  and  unem- 

Out  of  this  troubled  background  emerged  a  demand  among 
French  Canadians  that  the  financial  and  industrial  control  of  their 
province  be  wrested  from  the  dominant  English-speaking  business 
interests.  Big  business  was  being  denounced  in  the  depression  in 
Quebec  as  elsewhere,  but  here  the  racial  division  coloured  the  pic- 
ture. In  the  growing  clamour  a  clever  politician,  Maurice  Dup- 
lessis,  came  forward,  promising  both  to  modernize  and  to  'free' 
Quebec  and  to  carry  out  a  new  social  programme.  His  Union 
Nationale  drove  the  provincial  Liberal  government  from  power  in 
1936.  Soon,  however,  he  seemed  to  have  reached  his  own  terms 
with  the  existing  business  interests,  although  his  hold  over 
Quebec's  sectional  feelings  still  kept  his  place  secure. 

In  Ontario  meanwhile,  the  Liberals  under  Mitchell  Hepburn 
broke  up  a  long  Conservative  reign  in  1934,  following  a  campaign 
to  reduce  government  spending  during  the  depression  that  was 
strongly  supported  by  the  old  Ontario  farm  interest.  Soon  angry 
quarrels  flared  between  the  Hepburn  government  at  Toronto  and 
the  Dominion  Liberals  in  Ottawa,  for  Hepburn  took  a  firm  stand 
on  'Ontario  rights'.  Here  was  yet  another  sectional  party.  In  sum, 
the  trying  years  of  the  depression  were  plainly  encouraging  a 
variety  of  sectional  movements  at  the  expense  of  national  parties. 
This  was  true  of  Social  Credit  under  Aberhart  in  Alberta,  of 
Hepburn  Liberalism  in  Ontario,  and  Duplessis  Nationalism  in 
Quebec.  Only  the  C.C.F.  could  be  called  a  new  national  party, 
and  it  was  only  partially  so.  The  political  trend  of  the  'twenties 
and  'thirties  was  not  only  to  raise  new  social  demands,  it  was  to 
weaken  national  unity.  In  the  depression  of  the  1930*8  Canada 
had  to  face  a  testing  of  her  national  system  as  stern  as  any  since 
the  birth  of  the  Dominion. 



3    The  Federal  System  and  the  Depression 

It  might  be  said  that  the  Liberals  governed  Canada  for  much 
of  the  inter-war  period  less  through  their  own  strength  than 
through  the  weakness  of  their  foes.  The  new  parties  were  still  not 
effective  rivals  in  national  politics  and  the  Conservatives  were  held 
back  by  their  troubles  in  Quebec.  But  in  any  case  the  Liberals 
gave  no  strong  national  leadership.  That  fact  was  seen  in  the  way 
the  King  government  set  aside  the  Liberal  social  programme  of 
1919  as  merely  a  set  of  ideals  for  the  future  and  generally  ceased 
to  direct  the  development  of  Canada,  although  the  Dominion 
government  had  regularly  taken  the  lead  in  the  day  of  Laurier  or 
Macdonald.  Yet  in  one  respect  the  decline  in  Dominion  leader- 
ship could  hardly  be  charged  to  the  King  Liberals.  They  could  do 
little  about  a  change  in  the  whole  balance  of  the  Canadian  federal 
system,  which  made  the  Dominion  government  much  weaker  and 
the  provincial  governments  far  stronger  than  the  Fathers  of  Con- 
federation had  ever  intended. 

The  change  in  the  balance  of  power  had  long  been  developing. 
It  was  chiefly  the  result  of  legal  decisions  by  the  Judicial  Com- 
mittee of  the  imperial  Privy  Council.  Since  the  British  North 
America  Act  of  1867  that  established  Canadian  federalism  was  a 
kw  of  the  imperial  parliament,  legal  cases  concerning  the  extent 
of  federal  or  provincial  powers  under  the  Act  could  be  referred  to 
the  Privy  Council  justices  in  London  for  final  decision.  And  in 
the  decisions  that  the  Privy  Council  had  handed  down  there  had 
been,  at  least  since  1896,  a  strong  trend  in  favour  of  provincial 
interests  over  Dominion.  Apparently  the  justices  of  the  Privy 
Council  had  their  own  ideas  on  federalism,  which  put  consider- 
able stress  on  provincial  rights.  Yet  the  consequence  was  that  the 
intentions  of  the  men  who  had  shaped  the  Confederation  scheme 
were  ignored. 

The  Fathers  of  Confederation  had  clearly  wanted  a  strong 
federal  state  in  Canada.  The  British  North  America  Act,  there- 
fore, had  given  the  Dominion  a  general  ancj.  superior  power  in 



government  as  well  as  certain  particular  powers  listed  under  num- 
bered headings.  These  'enumerated  powers',  the  Act  declared., 
were  set  forth  merely  'for  greater  certainty9  and  did  not  limit  the 
general  authority  of  the  Dominion  to  make  laws  for  'peace,  order 
and  good  government'.  Yet  in  1896  the  Privy  Council  ruled  that 
the  Dominion  could  normally  use  only  its  enumerated  powers, 
and  that  the  general  reserve  authority  was  simply  meant  for  great 
national  emergencies  such  as  war.  In  effect,  Canada  was  made  a 
weak,  not  a  strong  federal  state.  The  Dominion  had  one  set  of 
fixed  powers.,  the  provinces  another,  and  the  Dominion's  reserve 
of  power  was  set  aside.  It  was  only  in  time  of  war  that  the  federal 
government  could  be  really  strong,  for  then  it  could  call  on  the 
reserve  'emergency'  authority  to  enact  sweeping  laws  like  the  War 
Measures  Act  of  1914.5  used  in  two  world  conflicts. 

Thanks  to  various  Privy  Council  decisions.,  the  provinces  ceased 
to  be  the  local  authorities  planned  in  1867  and  became  the  near- 
equals  of  the  Dominion.  Of  course,  the  federal  government  still 
ranked  above  them  because  it  represented  the  whole  country,  and 
in  many  ways  its  set  of  powers  was  still  the  wider,  especially  in  the 
field  of  taxation.  But  because  its  reserve  of  authority  had  been  put 
aside,  the  Dominion  found  it  difficult  to  enter  new  fields  of  govern- 
ment to  meet  new  problems.  In  fact,  the  widening  range  of 
government  activities  in  the  years  following  the  First  World  War 
led  to  a  number  of  Dominion-provincial  conferences  hi  which  the 
division  of  new  government  duties  was  debated  back  and  forth 
almost  as  between  independent  states. 

When  it  came  to  expanding  the  duties  of  government,  the 
powers  already  granted  to  the  provinces  gave  them  a  good  deal  of 
advantage.  For  example,  by  the  Act  of  1867  'property  and  civil 
rights'  lay  with  the  provinces.  When  granted  in  1867,  this  power 
had  meant  little  more  than  the  control  of  the  civil  laws  that  pro- 
tected real  property  and  personal  rights,  a  task  well  suited  to  a 
local  authority.  But  in  the  world  of  the  twentieth  century,  when 
government  was  called  on  to  do  more  and  more,  this  vague  term 



could  cover  labour  laws,  pensions,  social  insurance — a  variety 
of  social  measures  that  the  new  age  demanded,  all  of  which 
naturally  affected  the  property  and  personal  rights  of  the  people. 
The  framers  of  Confederation  could  not  foresee  this  development. 
But  if  the  Dominion  had  been  left  with  the  reserve  power  to  take 
up  new  tasks,  as  had  been  planned,  the  problem  would  not  have 
arisen.  As  it  was,  however,  the  national  government  could  only 
proceed  on  various  social  measures  by  agreements  with  the  prov- 
inces, many  of  which  preferred  to  go  ahead  with  their  own  social 
schemes.  Thus  the  standard  of  government  services  was  uneven 
across  Canada,  varying  between  the  richer  and  poorer  provinces. 

Still,  all  the  provinces  were  forging  ahead  at  their  own  best  rate 
in  the  new  field  of  social  services.  They  were  also  broadening  their 
activities  through  the  highway-building  and  hydro-electric  devel- 
opment of  the  post-war  era,  both  of  which  fell  in  the  provincial 
field.  There  was  a  serious  difficulty  here.  In  the  new  age,  it 
seemed,  the  provinces  were  the  advancing  powers;  yet  they  did 
not  really  have  the  financial  strength  to  back  their  ambitious  pro- 
grammes of  services  and  development.  The  British  North  America 
Act  had  given  most  of  the  taxing  power  to  the  Dominion.  The 
provinces  could  finance  their  expansion  through  their  limited  tax 
resources  only  while  times  were  good.  But  when  the  depression 
of  the  'thirties  arrived,  it  found  the  provinces  heavily  committed 
to  activities  that  many  of  them  could  not  really  afford,  while  the 
Dominion  had  the  money  but  not  the  power  to  take  these  func- 
tions over.  Clearly  the  federal  system  was  badly  off  balance,  and 
at  a  critical  time  for  Canada. 

By  1930  all  parts  of  the  Dominion  were  swept  into  the  vicious 
circle  of  depression.  As  world  trade  dropped,  unemployment 
mounted,  so  that  people  could  not  afford  to  buy,  and  trade  sank 
lower.  Immigration  was  halted.  Canada  had  trouble  enough  with 
her  existing  population.  The  industrial  East  was  hard  hit,  but  here 
the  continuing  advance  of  gold-mining  in  the  Shield  helped  to 
ease  the  blow.  The  far  West  was  also  affected  by  the  decline  in 



Pacific  commerce  and  fishing,  but  again  raining  in  the  Rockies 
helped  British  Columbia.  As  for  the  Maritimes,  because  they  had 
never  risen  so  high  they  had  less  far  to  fall,  though  life  in  the  little 
fishing  outports  was  hard,  indeed.  But  the  prairie  West,  depend- 
ent on  one  great  crop,  was  especially  affected.  The  collapse  of 
world  wheat  prices  struck  heavily  at  the  prairies,  and  cut  the 
incomes  of  the  railways  that  served  them,  to  increase  Canada's 
costly  problem  of  railway  debts.  In  addition,  drought  in  the  West 
reduced  the  wheat  crop  to  an  all-time  low,  often  wiping  out  what 
little  income  a  farmer  might  hope  to  receive.  The  people  of 
Talliser's  Triangle'  were  particularly  in  distress.  Prairie  govern- 
ments were  facing  bankruptcy  as  revenues  fell  and  the  bills  for 
unemployment  relief  soared.  It  was  out  of  this  background  that 
the  new  radical  parties,  Social  Credit  and  the  C.C.F.  sprang  up 
in  the  West. 

As  these  problems  swiftly  developed,  the  King  government  still 
gave  no  lead;  and  so,  in  1930,  the  Conservatives  at  last  came  back 
into  office,  with  a  promise  to  end  the  depression.  The  new  Con- 
servative prime  minister  was  R.  B.  Bennett,  who  had  replaced 
Meighen  as  party  leader  in  1927.  Bennett  was  a  mixture  of  un- 
doubted ability,  bold  energy,  and  arrogant  assurance;  in  some 
ways  he  was  his  own  worst  enemy.  His  first  move  was  along 
traditional  Conservative  lines.  He  raised  the  protective  tariff 
steeply,  higher  than  it  had  ever  been  before.  This  was  partly  done 
to  save  what  was  left  of  the  Canadian  market  for  Canadians,  and 
it  probably  benefited  industry  to  some  extent.  But  in  its  m^jn 
purpose,  'to  blast  a  way  into  world  markets'  by  showing  Canada's 
readiness  to  meet  other  nations'  tariff  increases  with  those  of  her 
own,  it  was  a  complete  failure. 

There  was  still  another  kind  of  tariff  measure  that  might  offer 
hope:  imperial  preference,  first  proposed  by  Canada  in  Laurier's 
day.  In  1932  the  depression  led  Britain  to  abandon  free  trade. 
A  system  of  empire  preference  at  last  became  possible,  whereby 
Dominions  could  give  British  goods  lower  rates  in  their  tariffs  in 



exchange  for  similar  preferences  in  the  British  tariff.  An  Imperial 
Economic  Conference  met  at  Ottawa  and  after  hard  bargaining 
reached  a  series  of  agreements.  Canada's  were  mainly  with  Brit- 
ain. They  provided  for  lower  rates  on  British  steel,  coal  and  manu- 
factures entering  Canada  in  return  for  similar  British  rates  on 
Canadian  wheat,  lumber  and  farm  products.  The  preferences 
were  limited,  however,  because  Canada  was  by  now  an  industrial 
nation  herself  and  sought  still  to  protect  her  own  industry.  Britain, 
moreover,  did  not  mean  to  tie  her  food  market  down  too  much  to 
one  supplier.  Nevertheless  a  freer  flow  of  trade  in  the  Common- 
wealth was  an  advantage,  although  it  was  not  large  enough  to  cure 
the  depression. 

By  1934,  although  the  worst  of  the  depression  had  passed,  it 
still  hung  heavy,  and  new  Dominion  policies  were  plainly  needed. 
The  Bennett  government  re-established  a  Wheat  Board  to  market 
the  reduced  western  crop,  gave  loans  and  grants  to  the  provinces, 
particularly  to  bankrupt  Saskatchewan,  and  reorganized  the  con- 
trol of  the  government's  railways.  But  the  main  Dominion  activ- 
ity consisted  in  footing  the  provinces'  bills  for  relief,  and  while 
spending  for  relief  was  sorely  necessary  it  was  not  solving  any 
problems.  Accordingly,  in  1935  (when  a  new  election  was  ap- 
proaching) Bennett  suddenly  produced  a  surprising  set  of  sweep- 
ing measures  that  would  reduce  farm  debt,  control  export  trade, 
regulate  business,  and  establish  unemployment  insurance  and 
minimum  wages — in  order,  as  he  said,  to  reform  the  capitalist 
system  and  restore  the  nation's  health.  It  was  Canada's  version 
of  Roosevelt's  New  Deal,  then  challenging  the  depression  in  the 
United  States. 

But  these  new  measures,  introduced  almost  without  warning, 
nearly  split  the  Conservative  party.  The  bulk  of  the  Conservatives 
were  not  convinced  of  the  need  for  such  a  sweeping  programme, 
and  the  country  as  a  whole  was  none  too  convinced  by  Bennett's 
sudden  change  of  policy.  And  so,  although  the  'New  Deal'  laws 
were  rushed  through  parliament,  King  and  the  Liberals  were  re- 



turned  in  the  election  of  1935.  They  could  not  have  been  more 
fortunate :  the  Conservatives  received  all  the  blame  for  the  depres- 
sion, and  trade  began  reviving  as  the  Liberals  came  back  to  power. 

King,  however,  still  pursued  a  very  cautious  policy.  In  a  typical 
move  for  time  he  referred  Bennett's  laws  to  the  courts  for  testing. 
The  Privy  Council  acted  true  to  form.  It  declared  most  of  them 
beyond  the  powers  of  the  federal  government.  Apparently  a  tre- 
mendous depression  was  still  not  enough  of  a  national  emergency 
to  allow  the  use  of  the  Dominion's  reserve  authority.  This  final 
judgment,  however,  together  with  the  unbalance  of  the  federal 
system,  glaringly  revealed  by  the  depression,  led  King  to  appoint 
a  Royal  Commission  in  1937  to  inquire  into  all  the  problems  of 
Dominion-provincial  relations. 

This,  the  Rowell-Sirois  Commission,  produced  a  report  in  1940 
that  was  a  masterpiece  of  investigation  and  proposed  what  was 
almost  a  plan  of  refederation.  Its  chief  proposals  called  first  for 
the  Dominion  to  round  out  its  already  wide  taxing  powers  by 
'renting*  much  of  the  provinces9  power  of  taxation.  In  return  the 
Dominion  was  to  take  over  provincial  debts  and  pay  a  series  of 
'adjustment  grants'.  These  would  help  finance  the  provinces,  so 
that  the  services  of  all  could  be  kept  at  one  national  level.  The 
Dominion  would  assume  the  whole  burden  of  unemployment 
relief  and  unemployment  insurance,  while  there  would  be  a  nation- 
wide system  of  social  services  administered  by  the  provinces  and 
aided  in  certain  cases  by  the  federal  government.  The  problem  of 
the  Dominion  having  money  but  not  power,  and  the  provinces 
power  but  not  money,  would  be  overcome.  Finally,  the  barriers 
in  the  federal  system  raised  by  the  Privy  Council  decisions  would 
be  avoided  since  the  plan  did  not  attack  provincial  powers  but 
sought  only  to  proceed  by  agreement. 

The  Rowell-Sirois  Report  was  a  product  of  the  question  of 
federalism  and  the  depression,  but  its  results  lie  in  a  later  period. 
Meanwhile,  as  the  Commission  was  sitting,  trade  was  recovering 
in  Canada,  reflecting  a  world  recovery  that  was  connected  with  a 



rising  armament  boom,  as  another  war  loomed  abroad.  Yet  King 
undoubtedly  aided  Canada's  revival  by  tariff  reductions  that  in- 
creased her  trade  with  both  Britain  and  the  United  States .  More 
important,  in  1935  and  1938,  he  was  able  to  reach  mutual  trade 
agreements  with  the  Roosevelt  government  of  the  United  States, 
which  did  not  share  the  extreme  high-tariff  ideas  of  previous 
American  governments.  Canada  kept  her  basic  policy  of  protec- 
tion, and  the  empire  preferences  as  well,  but  also  reduced  the 
duties  on  about  half  of  her  American  imports  in  return  for  similar 
treatment  by  the  United  States.  The  King  government  could  well 
say  that  it  had  brought  back  the  reciprocity  principle  that  had 
been  lost  since  1866. 

Nevertheless  King  had  not  cured  the  depression  any  more  than 
had  Bennett:  it  had  simply  gone  away.  The  Liberals  had  con- 
tinued their  policy  of  doing  nothing  in  particular — and  did  it  very 
well.  Yet  perhaps  King  was  right  in  thinking  Canada  needed  such 
a  policy  in  days  of  powerful  sectional  forces.  He  believed  that  his 
own  chief  task  was  the  preservation  of  national  unity.  On  the 
whole  he  pursued  it  successfully  by  not  letting  major  issues  come 
to  a  head:  he  appointed  Royal  Commissions  instead.  Such  a 
policy,  of  course,  may  seem  to  do  very  little  and  still  require  a  great 
deal  of  hard  running  to  stay  in  the  same  place.  At  any  rate,  despite 
the  unrest  and  friction  of  depression  years,  not  greatly  eased  by 
Bennett,  King  was  able  to  lead  a  united  nation  into  the  Second 
World  War  in  1939.  Perhaps  the  very  extent  of  the  problem  of 
federalism  and  the  depression  had  shown  the  strength  of  an 
underlying  belief  in  Canadian  unity  that,  despite  angry  criticisms 
and  dark  prophecies,  simply  took  it  for  granted  that  the  national 
system  would  survive.  Perhaps  this  is  the  strongest  basis  for  an 
enduring  nation. 

4    Canada  Enters  World  Affairs 

Thanks  to  the  achievement  of  nationhood  under  Borden  and 
King,  Canada  entered  world  affairs  in  the  period  between  the 










wars.  She  continued  her  close  relations  with  Britain  and  the 
United  States  within  the  North  Atlantic  triangle.  But  now  to 
these  were  added  direct  contacts  with  other  countries,  through  the 
League  of  Nations  and  the  Commonwealth,  and  through  the  gradual 
spread  of  Canadian  diplomatic  posts  abroad.  For  the  first  time, 
therefore,  Canada  was  able  to  carry  on  her  own  foreign  policy. 
The  question  was,  what  lines  should  it  follow?  Certain  main  lines 
of  policy  were  already  clear  for  the  Dominion:  for  example,  the 
need  to  work  for  the  best  possible  relations  between  Britain  and 
the  United  States,  and  the  vital  interest  that  a  fairly  small  nation 
with  a  very  large  overseas  trade  had  in  a  world  at  peace.  Yet  be- 
yond these  general  considerations  the  young  Canadian  foreign 
policy  seemed  to  be  shaped  chiefly  by  a  desire  to  avoid  commit- 
ting Canada  to  any  definite  stand  in  world  affairs. 

This  policy  of 'no  commitments'  was  to  some  extent  a  reflection 
of  a  general  North  American  feeling  of  isolation;  the  American 
continent  seemed  far  from  Europe  and  its  troubles,  and  did  not 
want  to  be  drawn  into  them.  Isolationism,  however,  was  more 
widespread  in  the  United  States.  A  purely  Canadian  cause  of  the 
desire  to  avoid  advance  commitments  lay  in  the  difference  of  the 
viewpoints  of  French  and  English  Canada  on  many  world  ques- 
tions. Any  very  definite  line  of  policy  only  invited  a  clash  of 
opinion  between  the  two  groups  of  Canadians,  and  this  King  in 
his  concern  for  unity  particularly  sought  to  avoid.  On  the  whole, 
the  French  Canadians  were  firmly  isolationist.  They  feared  that 
English  Canada's  main  aim  in  foreign  policy  was  the  support  of 
Britain,  which  thus  might  lead  to  new  entanglements  in  'British 
wars'.  English-speaking  Canadians  were  far  from  being  as  thor- 
oughly imperialist  as  the  French  believed,  but  there  was  a  strong 
feeling  among  them  that  Canada  should  back  up  British  foreign 
policy  more  or  less  automatically.  And  even  when  English  Cana- 
dians proposed  a  course  of  action  on  national  grounds  French 
Canada  suspected  that  this  was  disguised  imperialism.  Accord- 
ingly, in  an  effort  to  avoid  as  much  friction  as  possible,  King 


pursued  a  vague  policy  of  no  commitments,  expressed  in  his 
famous  phrase  for  putting  off  to  the  future  Canada's  decisions  on 
world  questions :  'Parliament  will  decide.' 

Even  King's  campaign  to  complete  Canadian  nationhood  was 
in  part  an  effort  to  avoid  the  commitments  resulting  from  being 
bound  by  British  foreign  policy.  It  was  not  so  much  a  construc- 
tive effort  as  an  attempt  to  withdraw  more  into  isolation.  Hence, 
although  the  rights  of  nationhood  were  a  major  achievement  for 
Canada,  it  was  the  right  to  say  £no'  that  she  made  most  use  of  in 
foreign  affairs.  Nevertheless  the  freedom  to  say  'no'  was  impor- 
tant, and  on  the  whole,  the  nation  accepted  this  negative  sort  of 
policy.  Furthermore,  a  small  state  like  Canada  (small  in  world 
power,  for  all  her  great  size)  could  not  make  a  great  mark  among 
the  nations  merely  by  taking  a  strong  line  of  policy. 

The  pattern  of  no  commitments  began  to  appear  almost  as  soon 
as  Borden  had  won  separate  membership  for  Canada  in  the  League 
of  Nations.  Article  X  of  the  Covenant  that  established  the  League 
called  for  collective  action  by  all  the  member-states  against  any 
country  that  endangered  world  peace  by  committing  an  act  of 
aggression.  This  article  was  really  the  keystone  of  the  League  plan, 
since  it  tried  to  create  a  world  police-power,  based  on  all  the 
League  members,  that  would  prevent  any  country  from  threaten- 
ing the  security  of  the  world.  It  was  disliked  by  many  nations 
because  it  committed  them  in  advance  to  actions  that  might  lead 
to  war,  and  it  was  never  very  effectively  used.  Canada,  however, 
strongly  objected  to  the  plan  for  collective  security.  Borden  pro- 
tested against  such  a  grave  obligation,  that  could  involve  Canada 
in  European  struggles  with  which  she  had  little  connection  when 
she  herself,  living  in  secure  America,  had  no  need  of  aid  in  return. 
As  a  Canadian  representative  at  the  League  put  it,  Canada  lived 
in  a  fireproof  house,  far  from  the  danger  of  flames,  and  thought 
she  should  be  able  to  pay  a  lower  insurance  rate. 

In  spite  of  Borden's  protests  in  1919,  Article  X  was  kept  in  the 
League  Covenant;  but  in  the  following  years  Canada  still  sought 



to  limit  the  commitment  that  it  involved.  It  was  not  her  efforts^ 
however,  but  the  steadily  sinking  faith  of  the  leading  powers  in 
collective  security  which  really  killed  Article  X.  In  any  case  that 
principle,  and  the  League  itself,  had  largely  been  built  on  the 
belief  that  the  United  States  would  be  a  member  of  the  League  of 
Nations.  Instead,  isolationism  in  that  country  led  it  to  reject 
League  membership,  and  the  loss  of  the  great  American  strength 
was  disastrous.  Canada,  at  least,  was  a  member,  though  not  a 
very  effective  one,  and  so  found  herself  with  the  task  of  repre- 
senting North  America  in  a  largely  European  body. 

The  failure  of  the  League  to  check  the  Japanese  invasion  of 
Manchuria  in  1931  or  the  Italian  attack  on  Abyssinia  in  1935 
doomed  the  principle  of  collective  security.  The  Canadian  dele- 
gate at  the  League  did  propose  oil  sanctions  that  would  have  cut 
off  Italy's  oil  supply  for  the  Abyssinian  War.  But  the  Canadian 
government,  true  to  its  policy  of  no  commitments,  hastily  rejected 
this  effective  but  dangerous  measure,  stating  that  Canada's  dele- 
gate had  acted  without  authority.  The  League  took  no  effective 
action.  Italy,  led  by  the  fascist  dictator  Mussolini,  had  proved,, 
apparently,  that  aggression  could  pay.  As  a  result,  another  fascist 
dictator  took  heart.  Under  Hitler,  Nazi  Germany  began  the  acts 
of  violence  and  aggression  that  greatly  enlarged  German  territory, 
but  ended  in  the  Second  World  War. 

The  rise  of  Germany  as  a  storm  centre  and  the  steady  decline 
of  the  League  caused  Britain  and  France,  the  leading  European 
powers,  to  try  to  keep  the  peace  by  satisfying  Nazi  demands. 
Here  was  the  policy  to  be  known  as  appeasement.  Appeasement 
was  as  unreal  as  isolationism,  but  because  European  countries 
were  not  far  enough  away  to  ignore  Hitler  they  tried  to  come  to 
terms  with  him.  Canada,  on  the  whole,  approved  of  the  British 
policy  of  appeasement,  largely  because  this  too  seemed  a  way  of 
avoiding  trouble  and  commitments.  By  this  time  in  Canada  the 
country's  foreign  policy  was  in  dispute  among  nationalists  and 
imperialists,  isolationists  and  collectivists — or  groups  which  called 



each  other  by  these  names.  The  collectivists  were  those  who  saw 
the  only  hope  in  a  return  to  the  idea  of  collective  security  through 
the  League.  Still  King  held  them  all  off,  and  turned  aside  their 
insistence  on  some  definite  stand  with  the  statement  that  when 
the  time  came  for  decision,  parliament  would  decide:  a  rather 
doubtful  statement  since  he  and  his  party  controlled  parliament 
in  any  case.  Yet  any  other  course  would  surely  have  split  the 

The  time  for  decision  was  fast  approaching.  While  still  hoping 
to  appease  fascist  violence  the  democracies  of  Europe  began  to 
rearm,  and  in  1937  Canada  also  began  an  enlarged  defence  pro- 
gramme. But  meanwhile  she  was  greatly  strengthening  her  posi- 
tion in  the  North  American  continent  through  the  improvement 
of  her  relations  with  the  United  States.  Relations  with  the  United 
States  had  been  satisfactory  since  at  least  the  start  of  the  First 
World  War,  and  the  citizens  of  the  two  countries  had  been  build- 
ing lasting  friendship  from  the  iSyo's  on.  Yet  in  general  the 
government  of  the  United  States  had  ignored  Canada  ever  since 
ithad  dropped  any  ideas  of  annexation.  There  was  little  thought  of 
a  'good  neighbour'  policy  with  Canada  in  American  government 
circles  until  Franklin  D.  Roosevelt  came  to  the  presidency  in  1932. 
The  Americans  had  opposed  separate  Canadian  representation  in 
the  League  in  1919,  had  sought  still  to  treat  Canada  as  a  British 
colony  in  the  1920'$,  and  had  waged  a  tariff  war  with  their  exceed- 
ingly high  tariff  of  1930.  President  Roosevelt's  general  policy, 
however,  was  the  promotion  of  close  friendly  relations  throughout 
the  Americas. 

In  Canada's  case,  this  led  to  the  signing  of  new  tariff  agreements 
and  to  gestures  of  friendship  such  as  President  Roosevelt's  visit  in 
1938.  At  the  same  time  his  condemnation  of  fascist  aggression  and 
his  swing  away  from  extreme  isolation  pleased  anti-isolationist 
feeling  in  Canada,  which  was  as  yet  much  stronger  than  in  the 
United  States.  In  1938,  moreover,  Roosevelt  on  his  visit  gave  a 
pledge  that  his  country  'would  not  stand  idly  by'  in  the  case  of  an 


CANADA   BETWEEN   TWO   WORLD   WARS,    1919-39 

attack  on  Canada :  a  much  more  definite  and  more  acceptable  pro- 
tection for  the  Dominion  than  the  terms  of  the  Monroe  Doctrine. 
And  a  few  days  later  Mackenzie  King  made  clear  that  Canada  wel- 
comed this  pledge  of  friendship  and  common  interest,  while  ready 
still  to  do  her  own  part  in  joint  defence  and  while  maintaining  her 
place  in  the  Commonwealth.  In  consequence,  when  war  did 
break  out  in  1939  Canada's  position  in  North  America  was  secure, 
and  she  found  a  cordial  and  very  useful  ally  in  the  United  States 
long  before  that  country  also  joined  in  the  world  conflict. 

In  the  last  few  years  before  the  war,  Canada's  policy  of  no  com- 
mitments was  also  wearing  thin.  There  was  no  doubt  of  Cana- 
dians' dislike  for  Hitler.  Defence  costs  mounted;  in  the  Munich 
crisis  of  1938  King  was  prepared  to  back  Britain  if  the  crisis  led 
to  war;  and  in  general,  isolationist  forces  weakened.  There  was  a 
growing  feeling  of  Canada's  responsibility  in  the  Commonwealth 
and  in  the  world,  a  growing  recognition  that  commitments  could 
not  be  avoided.  The  visit  of  the  King  and  Queen  as  the  rulers  of 
Canada  in  the  summer  of  1939  strengthened  both  the  pride  of 
nationhood  and  the  sense  of  Commonwealth  ties.  And  then,  in 
September,  1939,  the  moment  of  decision  came.  Britain  and 
France  at  last  went  to  war  to  end  the  ceaseless  spread  of  a  fascist 
system  based  on  tyranny,  fear,  conquest,  and  destruction.  This 
time  the  British  declaration  did  not  bind  the  full-grown  nation  of 
Canada.  As  King  had  promised,  the  Canadian  parliament  met  to 
decide  the  issue  of  peace  or  war. 

It  was  not  for  a  moment  in  doubt.  Despite  the  long  internal 
strains  of  sectionalism  and  depression,  despite  the  past  strength 
of  isolationism  and  the  policy  of  no  commitments,  the  Canadian 
parliament  voted  grimly  but  overwhelmingly  for  war.  Undoubt- 
edly sentiment  for  Britain  still  played  a  large  part,  as  in  1914.  But 
so  did  the  realization  that  Canada's  national  future  was  bound  up 
with  the  survival  of  Britain  and  the  free  Commonwealth.  And 
this  time,  with  the  memory  of  the  last  bloody  struggle  still  strong, 
there  was  a  new  awareness  of  what  the  cost  might  be — in  racial 



discord  as  well  as  in  men  and  material.  Beyond  this  too,  there  was 
a  realization  that  Canada  did  not,  and  could  not,  live  in  a  fire-proof 
house  in  the  modern  world :  as  the  United  States  again  realized  for 
herself  in  1941.  Canadians  saw  that  they  had  to  do  their  share  to 
save  the  free  and  democratic  way  of  life  they  believed  in.  Isola- 
tionist, imperialist  and  collectivism  French  and  English,  they 
buried  their  differences  in  facing  the  world  menace  of  fascism. 
There  was  little  excitement.  It  was  an  act  of  sober  maturity. 
With  the  declaration  of  war  on  10  September  1939,  Canada  really 
came  of  age  in  world  affairs. 




I    Canada  and  the  Second  World  War 

When  the  Second  World  War  began  in  1939  it  seemed  that 
Canada  would  mainly  be  called  on  as  a  supply  base,  to  furnish 
food  and  raw  materials,  as  before,  and  also  to  provide  a  wide 
range  of  industrial  products.  A  division  of  soldiers  was  rapidly 
raised  and  sent  to  Britain,  the  first  Canadian  contingent  sailing 
towards  the  close  of  the  year.  It  was  generally  believed,  however, 
that  Britain  and  France  could  win  the  war  against  Germany  with- 
out a  heavy  use  of  troops,  by  means  of  a  blockade  that  would  cut 
her  off  from  outside  supplies  and  destroy  her  ability  to  carry  on 
the  struggle.  Nineteen-forty  doomed  that  hope.  The  sudden  col- 
lapse of  France  in  June,  under  the  lightning  German  onslaught, 
brought  Italy  into  the  war  on  Germany's  side  and  left  Britain  and 
her  Commonwealth  partners  standing  alone.  The  shock  was 
tremendous,  though  Britain  saved  most  of  her  men  from  France 
in  the  miracle  of  Dunkirk  and  fought  on  with  no  thought  of 

In  Canada,  as  everywhere,  the  whole  view  of  the  war  was  al- 
tered. The  Dominion  now  stood  as  the  next  strongest  nation  to 
Britain  in  the  fight  against  the  German-Italian  Axis.  All  her 
strength  would  be  needed.  Projects  for  great  new  industrial  de- 
velopments were  laid  down,  and  secret  British  arms  plans  were 
sent  out  for  use  in  the  rising  Canadian  war  factories  that  were  safe 
from  bombing.  Canada  became  an  arsenal,  and  Britain's  chief 
overseas  source  of  war  production.  At  the  same  time  the  Domin- 
ion organized  and  equipped  new  divisions  of  troops  until  in  all 
five  divisions,  two  of  them  armoured,  and  two  armoured  (tank) 
brigades  had  been  sent  abroad.  This  was  a  full  army  formation, 



more  than  half  a  million  strong.  The  bulk  of  it  went  to  Britain,  the 
free  world's  last  great  stronghold  in  a  Europe  largely  conquered 
by  German  might. 

For  a  time  after  Dunkirk,  indeed,  the  Canadian  forces  under 
General  McNaughton  were  almost  the  only  troops  in  Britain  fully 
equipped  to  resist  a  German  invasion.  But  the  brilliant  air  vic- 
tories of  the  Battle  of  Britain  and  the  British  command  of  the  seas 
about  the  island  made  invasion  impossible  for  Hitler's  armies,  and 
plans  were  soon  being  laid  for  a  grand  assault  on  German-held 
Europe.  In  the  next  few  years  the  Canadian  army  was  kept  in 
Britain  and  prepared  for  the  return  to  Europe,  while  British  and 
other  Commonwealth  forces  fought  in  battles  all  around  the  world. 
Canada  did  send  troops  to  Hong  Kong  hi  1941,  when  Germany's 
Axis  partner,  Japan,  unleashed  war  in  the  Pacific,  but  they  were 
captured  after  the  hopeless  defence  of  Hong  Kong  in  December  of 
that  year.  Japan's  entry  into  the  war,  however,  with  a  sudden 
savage  thrust  at  the  main  American  naval  base  in  the  Pacific,  Pearl 
Harbour,  brought  in  the  giant  strength  of  the  United  States  and 
made  possible  a  powerful  and  victorious  Allied  partnership.  Mean- 
while the  huge  Soviet  Union  had  also  been  brought  in  by  the 
eastward  attack  of  Germany  and  her  conquered  European  empire 
in  June  1941. 

In  August  of  1942  came  the  first  Allied  return  to  France,  when 
the  Canadians  provided  most  of  the  troops  for  a  raid  in  force  on 
Dieppe.  The  bold  Dieppe  raid,  costly  though  it  was,  supplied 
valuable  experience  for  the  western  Allies  in  launching  the  suc- 
cessful invasions  of  Germany's  'Fortress  Europe5  that  came  later. 
Then  in  1943  a  Canadian  division  was  sent  to  the  Mediterranean^ 
and  distinguished  itself  in  the  conquest  of  Sicily.  After  the 
Allied  landings  in  Italy  another  division  was  added  to  form  the 
First  Canadian  Corps  in  the  British  Eighth  Army.  The  Canadians 
shared  notably  in  the  advance  up  the  peninsula,  particularly  in 
the  hot  fighting  around  Ortona. 

In  June  of  1944,  the  great  hour  struck.  A  vast  Allied  armada 



under  the  supreme  command  of  America's  General  Eisenhower 
descended  on  the  coast  of  France.  American,  British^  and  Cana- 
dian divisions  battled  their  way  inland.  The  Canadians  worked 
with  the  British  in  clearing  the  bloody  ruins  of  Caen,  the  hinge  of 
the  whole  Allied  advance.  The  forward  movement  of  the  British- 
Canadian  front  was  less  sweeping  than  the  American,  but  the 
losses  were  not,  for  here  the  main  weight  of  the  German  armour 
was  massed.  When  the  last-ditch  German  defence  of  Caen  had 
fallen  the  Canadians  moved  on  at  last,  now  formed  into  the  Cana- 
dian First  Army  under  Canada's  General  Crerar.  This  Canadian- 
led  army  contained  strong  British  units — although  the  Canadians 
were  the  principal  group — since  the  rest  of  the  Canadian  units 
were  still  serving  under  British  command  in  Italy. 

Canadian  forces  formed  one  of  the  pincers  that  met  with  the 
Americans  to  close  the  Falaise  trap,  cutting  off  some  of  Hitler's 
best  troops.  In  the  sweep  through  France  that  followed,  the 
Canadians  again  took  a  major  role.  Their  task  was  to  anchor  the 
northern  end  of  the  Allied  line  as  it  wheeled  ahead,  and  they  had 
to  fight  then:  way  through  the  heavy  German  shore  defences  in 
moving  up  the  French  coast  to  Belgium.  Their  next  duty  lay  in 
clearing  the  approaches  to  the  big  Belgian  port  of  Antwerp,  which 
was  essential  to  the  Allies  as  the  only  port  capable  of  handling  the 
huge  amount  of  war  material  necessary  to  mount  an  invasion  of 
Germany  itself.  Again,  while  the  biggest  battles  and  most  spectac- 
ular advances  went  on  on  other  fronts,  the  Canadians  pressed 
through  the  costly  struggle  to  take  the  Walcheren  Islands,  which 
the  Germans  strove  to  hold  to  the  end  in  order  to  block  the  use  of 
Antwerp  and  prevent  the  attack  on  their  homeland. 

When  the  job  was  done,  and  the  Allies  again  swept  forward,  the 
First  Army  opened  the  attack  on  Germany's  Rhineland,  working 
closely  with  Britain's  Second  Army.  Then  it  turned  north  to 
liberate  all  the  Netherlands.  In  this  last  stage  it  became  a  wholly 
Canadian  formation,  since  the  units  from  Italy  were  transferred 
to  it.  At  last,  as  Russians  and  Americans  met  in  central  Germany 



over  the  ruins  of  Hitler's  empire,  the  Canadian  Army  in  the 
Netherlands  received  the  surrender  of  the  German  armies  in  that 
region.  Allied  victory  came  on  8  May,  1945.  Canada's  share  had 
cost  her  41,700  in  dead  and  missing.  The  cost  in  lives  was  lower 
than  in  the  First  World  War  because  Canadian  troops  had  only 
been  heavily  engaged  in  the  final  year  of  the  Second  War,  but 
then  they  had  suffered  a  high  rate  of  losses.  And  Canada's  sol- 
diers, who  had  distinguished  themselves  in  rapid  advances  in  the 
First  War,  had  won  no  less  credit  in  the  Second  for  their  record 
in  bitter,  sustained  fighting. 

The  Royal  Canadian  Navy  also  distinguished  itself  in  the  hard 
work  of  war,  without  much  chance  of  great  battles  and  victories. 
Its  main  job  lay  with  the  North  Atlantic  convoys  that  were  vital 
to  the  whole  Allied  war  effort  if  the  stream  of  men  and  materials 
from  the  North  American  arsenals  were  to  reach  embattled  Britain 
and  enter  the  fight  against  the  Axis.  For  most  of  the  Canadians  at 
sea  the  war  was  an  endless  round  of  grey  days  and  black  nights 
with  the  precious  convoys;  of  storms,  ice  and  northern  cold,  of 
drudgery  and  monotony  that  might  suddenly  be  shattered  by  a 
torpedo  blast  and  death.  There  were  submarine  alarms,  tense 
U-boat  hunts  and  running  battles  at  sea  to  bring  periods  of  sus- 
pense and  victory,  but  the  main  victory  lay  in  getting  the  convoys 
through.  At  times  the  long,  wearing  Battle  of  the  Atlantic  rose  to 
violent  heights,  as  U-boat  wolf-packs  sank  ships  faster  than  they 
could  be  replaced.  But  each  time  new  methods  and  weapons,  par- 
ticularly in  the  use  of  aircraft  at  sea,  brought  the  menace  under 
control.  The  little  ships  and  their  heavy-laden  charges  sailed  on  to 
final  success. 

At  the  start  of  the  war  the  small  Canadian  peacetime  navy  con- 
tained only  5,000  men,  but  it  was  expanded  to  nearly  twenty  times 
that  number  until  it  was  the  third  largest  naval  force  in  the  world. 
Most  of  its  strength,  of  course,  lay  in  small  anti-submarine  craft, 
for  it  was  dear  from  the  start  that  Canada's  chief  contribution  at 
sea  should  be  to  the  all-important  convoy  system  and  hi  ships  that 



she  could  quickly  build  and  man.  In  1943  Canada  took  over  naval 
control  of  the  north-west  Atlantic.  In  the  next  year  the  bulk  of 
Allied  convoys  sailed  from  America  under  Canadian  escort — four- 
fifths  of  them,  in  the  closing  stages  of  the  war.  At  the  same  time 
Canadians  served  around  the  world  with  the  Royal  Navy,  or  fought 
in  the  Mediterranean  in  motor  boat  squadrons;  went  into  battle  off 
the  French  coast  in  Canadian  destroyers,  or  sailed  on  the  Mur- 
mansk run  to  Russia.  A  Canadian  fleet  unit,  newly  equipped  with 
cruisers  and  aircraft  carriers,  had  entered  the  Pacific  war  when  in 
August,  1945,  Japan,  the  eastern  foe,  surrendered. 

In  the  air  Canada  raised  her  forces  from  4,000  to  200,000.  She 
sent  45  Royal  Canadian  Air  Force  squadrons  overseas  and  pro- 
vided men  besides  for  the  air  crews  of  the  R.A.F.  Canadian  fighter 
pilots  fought  in  the  Battle  of  Britain  and  in  the  sweeps  over 
France;  bomber  crews  joined  in  the  nightly  Batde  of  Germany, 
and  by  1944  one-quarter  of  the  air-crews  attacking  Germany 
under  British  command  were  Canadian.  Canada's  airmen  flew 
over  Malta,  in  North  Africa,  Italy,  India,  Burma,  in  Britain's 
Coastal  Command  and  in  the  Fleet  Air  Arm.  They  ferried  aircraft 
over  the  Atlantic  and  patrolled  the  Arctic  North.  They  worked  in 
Alaska  with  the  Americans  and  at  sea  with  the  Allied  navies.  In 
this  Second  War,  as  in  the  First,  Canada  set  up  an  outstanding 
record  in  the  air,  but  this  time  her  own  R.C.A.F.  achieved  much 
of  it. 

One  of  the  chief  Canadian  contributions  to  the  air  war  was 
made  through  the  British  Commonwealth  Air  Training  Plan,  a 
scheme  to  provide  the  large  number  of  skilled  airmen  who  were 
necessary  for  the  air  offensive  on  Germany.  Agreements  for  the 
multi-million  dollar  Plan  were  signed  late  in  1939  between  Britain, 
Canada,  and  other  Commonwealth  countries.  The  broad  reaches 
of  the  Dominion,  far  from  the  war  fronts,  served  as  a  training 
ground.  Air  bases,  schools  and  workshops  were  erected  across 
Canada,  and  a  flow  of  candidates  came  there  from  many  parts  of 
the  Commonwealth.  More  than  half  the  men  trained  under  the 



Plan,  however,  were  Canadians.  The  whole  complex  scheme  was 
a  monument  to  Commonwealth  co-operation.  It  showed  that  the 
member-nations  could  work  closely  and  effectively  together  in  a 
fellowship  that  was  real,  however  slight  its  formal  bonds. 

Indeed,  the  whole  conduct  of  the  war  showed  once  more  the 
value  of  Commonwealth  ties  in  meeting  a  common  danger.  The 
member-nations,  thanks  to  their  common  background,  ideas  and 
institutions,  agreed  on  the  greatest  questions.  The  passage  of  the 
war  actually  made  formal  Commonwealth  ties  even  slighter— if 
that  were  possible.  Thus  full-scale  Imperial  Conferences  ceased, 
and  there  was  no  return  to  an  Imperial  War  Cabinet.  But  this  in 
part  was  due  to  the  very  success  of  informal  relations.  Modern 
communications  by  air  and  radio  made  Continuous  consultation' 
a  reality,  although  not  in  the  old  sense  of  framing  a  joint  imperial 
policy.  Instead  Commonwealth  ministers  and  officials  could  meet 
and  consult  with  one  another  as  need  arose.  This  development, 
together  with  the  practice  of  holding  Commonwealth  prime  minis- 
ters' meetings,  made  the  old  formal  Imperial  Conferences  seem 

Yet  while  nothing  essential  was  lost  in  Canada's  relation  to 
Britain  and  the  Commonwealth,  major  changes  occurred  in  Can- 
ada's relations  with  the  United  States.  The  war,  in  fact,  saw  in- 
creasingly close  connections  between  the  United  States  on  the  one 
hand  and  Britain  and  the  Commonwealth  on  the  other.  But 
Canada's  ties  with  the  republic  grew  especially  strong  because  of 
their  common  need  to  defend  North  America.  An  attack  on  one 
was  a  threat  to  the  other.  That  realization  led  to  the  signing  of  the 
Ogdensburg  Agreement  between  Canada  and  the  United  States  in 
the  bkck  year  of  1940,  by  which  a  Permanent  Joint  Defence  Board 
was  established  to  plan  the  protection  of  North  America.  Here 
was  a  binding  military  alliance  without  limit,  and  one  of  weighty 
significance.  Under  the  Board  joint  Arctic  defences  were  planned 
against  a  northern  attack  by  air.  Chains  of  Canadian-American 
air  bases  and  radio  posts  were  stretched  across  the  northern  wastes* 



The  Alaska  Highway  was  pushed  through  the  wilderness  for  1,500 
miles,  from  the  cend  of  steel'  in  British  Columbia  across  the  Yukon 
to  Alaska,  in  order  to  link  that  outflung  region  to  the  south  by 
land.  This  measure  seemed  particularly  necessary  when  the  Jap- 
anese invaded  the  islands  off  the  Alaskan  coast  in  1942.  Besides 
these  joint  military  measures,  the  Hyde  Park  Agreement  of  1941 
tied  the  Canadian  and  American  economies  much  closer  together, 
and  after  the  United  States  had  entered  the  war  there  was  a  good 
deal  of  joint  planning  of  production  on  a  continental  basis.  These 
were  significant  steps  for  the  future,  from  which  there  could  be 
no  easy  thoughts  of  return.  They  were  an  expression  of  the  closely 
entangled  interests  of  the  two  neighbouring  North  American  na- 
tions in  a  dangerous  new  world.  Canada  had  to  seek  the  fullest 
co-operation  with  the  United  States,  while  trying  still  to  preserve 
the  Canadian  identity  in  North  America  that  she  had  struggled  so 
long  to  establish. 

The  Canadian  war  effort  produced  equally  significant  develop- 
ments in  industry  and  finance.  The  First  World  War  had  left 
Canada  a  vigorous  industrial  nation;  the  Second  made  her 
fourth  in  world  importance.  Mining  and  steel-making,  tank-  and 
shipbuilding,  machine  and  automobile  production  were  all  greatly 
expanded,  until  by  the  close  of  the  conflict  Canada's  industrial 
exports  much  exceeded  her  staple  products  in  value.  Hydro- 
electric development  was  striking:  in  Quebec  it  led  to  a  great  new 
aluminium  industry,  whose  raw  materials  came  by  sea  from  Green- 
land and  British  Guiana.  In  northern  Ontario,  similarly,  wartime 
needs  led  to  major  developments  in  iron-mining,  and,  on  the 
prairies,  to  a  successful  search  for  oil  which  brought  on  a  post-war 
oil  boom.  Meanwhile  the  West  was  flourishing  again  under  heavy 
wartime  demands  for  food.  Shipbuilding  and  war  traffic  brought 
prosperity  to  the  Maritimes  and  to  British  Columbian  ports. 
Quebec  and  Ontario  factories  worked  to  capacity.  So  at  last  did 
the  railways.  In  fact,  they  were  overloaded. 

The  increased  wealth  of  Canada  produced  twelve  billion  dollars 



in  victory  loans  and  war  taxes  to  finance  the  war  effort.  The 
nation  was  able  as  well  to  lend  to  Britain  during  and  after  the 
war  sums  that  in  proportion  to  population  greatly  exceeded  United 
States  loans.  Canada,  moreover,  did  not  take  American  Lend- 
Lease  aid  but  carried  out  her  own  Lend-Lease  system  of  supply- 
ing war  materials  worth  four  billion  dollars  to  her  allies  under  the 
name  of  Mutual  Aid.  And  though  the  wartime  boom  mounted,  as 
in  the  First  World  War,  this  time  an  efficient  overall  system  of 
government  controls  and  rationing  kept  price  levels  down  most 
successfully  until  the  conflict  was  over.  Nevertheless  Canada 
faced  internal  troubles  during  the  struggle.  As  before  they  largely 
revolved  about  the  question  of  conscription. 

2     War  and  Post-War  Politics 

In  the  First  World  War  Canada  had  had  eight  million  people 
and  had  placed  over  600,000  of  them  under  arms.  In  the  Second 
War,  with  twelve  million,  she  raised  armed  forces  of  over  a  million 
men  and  women.  This  in  itself  was  a  substantial  achievement, 
when  so  great  an  industrial  expansion  was  going  forward,  and 
especially  since  most  of  it  was  accomplished  on  a  volunteer  basis. 
But  inevitably  the  conscription  question  arose  once  again.  Since 
Canada's  chief  allies  applied  national  conscription  from  the  start, 
her  own  efforts  appeared  to  fall  short  of  total  war.  When  the 
neighbouring  United  States  entered  the  conflict  with  full  conscrip- 
tion, Canadians  questioned  their  own  case  more,  although  they  had 
already  been  at  war  for  over  two  years.  In  addition,  those  whose 
sons,  husbands  and  relatives  were  fighting  overseas  naturally  re- 
sented the  thought  that  other  Canadians  could  escape  the  same 
hard  burden.  Yet,  whether  it  be  reason  or  excuse,  the  presence  of 
French  Canada  again  made  conscription  a  dangerous  and  des- 
tructive measure  in  a  country  composed  of  two  such  distinct 

The  French  Canadians  accepted  the  Second  War  and  a  large- 
scale  war  effort  far  more  fully  than  they  had  the  First.  For  them 



to  forget  their  old  resentment  at  being  swamped  by  the  English- 
speaking  majority  in  1917  was  not  easy.  But  in  general  the  French 
Canadians  showed  a  new  willingness  to  depart  from  their  isola- 
tionism. They  overthrew  the  nationalist  Duplessis  government  in 
Quebec  and  put  in  a  Liberal  administration;  they  followed  the 
lead  given  by  Ernest  Lapointe,  King's  chief  French  Canadian 
lieutenant,  in  his  appeal  for  national  unity;  and  they  volunteered 
for  military  service  in  larger  numbers  than  in  the  First  War.  Still 
they  were  determined  not  to  have  conscription,  which  had  become 
for  them  more  a  symbol  of  English-Canadian  domination  than  a 
plain  question  of  war  policy.  Indeed,  King  and  Lapointe  had 
largely  gained  the  support  of  French  Canada  in  their  appeals  for 
national  unity  in  the  war  by  the  promise  that  the  Liberal  party 
would  not  introduce  conscription. 

When  the  war  took  its  grave  turn  with  the  fall  of  France,  how- 
ever, the  realization  grew  that  Canada  could  not  escape  with  only 
a  partial  effort.  Freedom  would  not  come  cheaply.  English- 
speaking  Canada  was  already  supplying  the  greater  number  of 
troops  and  it  now  began  to  call  for  conscription.  This  demand  was 
readily  taken  up  by  the  Conservative  party.  The  Conservatives 
had  already  lost  a  wartime  election  in  the  spring  of  1940,  thanks 
partly  to  their  continued  weakness  in  Quebec.  They  had  little  to 
lose  in  French  Canada  by  pursuing  their  old  policy  of  conscrip- 
tion, and  much  to  gain  in  the  rest  of  the  country.  The  King 
government  took  strong  steps  to  expand  the  war  effort  but  still 
sought  to  head  off  the  conscription  cry  by  enacting  compulsory 
military  service  for  home  defence  only.  This  measure  somewhat 
quieted  the  conscriptionist  demand  without  arousing  French  Can- 
ada too  far,  because  the  critical  question  for  the  French  was  con- 
scription for  overseas  service.  Yet  the  American  entrance  into  the 
war  on  the  basis  of  conscription  swelled  the  demand  in  Canada 
again.  It  grew  so  powerful  that  in  April,  1942,  a  national  plebe- 
scite  was  held  on  the  question,  in  order  to  see  whether  the  Liberal 
government  should  be  released  from  its  pledge  not  to  introduce 



conscription.  The  question  as  put  to  the  voters  was  skilfully 
worded  so  that  the  government  merely  asked  whether  it  should  be 
left  free  to  bring  in  compulsory  service  if  necessary.  A  large 
majority  voted  cyes',  in  a  sharply  racial  division;  there  was  an 
almost  solid  French  Canadian  'no'.  King  had  still  avoided  the 
final  issue,  pleasing  neither  side,  but  leaving  both  in  a  mood  of 
grumbling  acceptance  of  his  indefinite  policy. 

In  the  autumn  of  1944,  however,  when  the  Canadian  losses  in 
Europe  began  to  mount,  the  problem  of  securing  sufficient  rein- 
forcements to  keep  the  army  up  to  strength  loomed  larger  and 
larger.  English  Canada  would  wait  no  longer.  Colonel  Ralston, 
the  Minister  of  Defence,  insisted  on  conscription  as  utterly  neces- 
sary for  the  army.  When  King  accepted  his  resignation  the  crisis 
reached  a  peak.  The  Prime  Minister  still  delayed,  making  every 
effort  to  find  reinforcements  on  a  volunteer  basis.  Then,  as  he 
knew  he  must  in  the  final  emergency,  he  gave  way  to  the  English- 
speaking  majority.  Sixteen  thousand  home-service  conscripts  were 
ordered  overseas  as  replacements.  Quebec  cried  out  angrily.  The 
racial  crisis  of  1917  had  apparently  repeated  itself,  the  tragic  result 
of  Canada's  greatest  internal  problem  and  her  great  external  need. 

But  would  the  racial  storm  continue?  Strangely  enough,  it  did 
not.  In  the  special  session  of  parliament  that  was  then  called,  the 
government  lost  Quebec  votes  temporarily,  but  the  great  majority 
of  them  soon  returned  to  the  support  of  the  ministry  in  the  House 
of  Commons.  Not  that  French  Canada  had  come  to  approve 
of  conscription;  it  simply  realized  it  could  not  hope  for  a  more 
favourable  government  than  that  of  Prime  Minister  King.  He  had 
held  out  against  compulsory  service  to  the  last  and  had  yielded 
finally  to  the  necessity  of  majority  rule.  He  had  not  pressed 
conscription  forward  as  had  Borden.  In  consequence,  there  was 
less  trouble  in  Quebec  over  the  drafting  of  men  overseas  than 
there  had  been  in  the  First  War,  although  King  and  Canada  were 
most  fortunate  in  that  the  war,  and  hence  the  need  of  replace- 
ments, ended  as  soon  as  it  did  the  next  year. 



The  Liberal  leader  had  saved  both  national  unity  and  his  party. 
Never  had  his  policy  of  delay  and  indefiniteness  been  used  more 
cleverly  nor  to  so  constructive  an  end.  It  was  not  a  noble  policy; 
but  given  the  problems  of  Canada  it  was  a  highly  successful  one. 
Nor  had  it  been  easy.  Behind  tie  appearance  of  drifting  before 
the  currents  of  public  opinion  lay  King's  cool  determination, 
careful  calculation,  and  the  readiness  to  act  when  the  right  mom- 
ent came.  Perhaps  Mackenzie  King's  handling  of  the  conscription 
question  was  his  greatest  achievement  in  politics. 

Largely  because  of  his  success  in  avoiding  a  racial  division,  the 
ageing  Liberal  leader  won  victory  once  more  in  the  general 
election  which  he  called  in  the  summer  of  1945.  The  C.C.F.  and 
Social  Credit  still  had  only  a  limited  appeal,  while  the  Conser- 
vatives had  not  made  the  gains  that  they  had  expected  from  their 
conscriptionist  stand.  It  was  in  vain  that  they  had  acquired  a  new 
and  respected  leader  in  John  Bracken,  former  premier  of  Mani- 
toba, and  under  his  influence  had  changed  their  name  to  'Pro- 
gressive Conservatives'  and  adopted  a  full  programme  of  social 
measures.  There  was  a  feeling  that  the  Liberal  government  had 
proved  its  efficiency  in  the  war  effort,  and  the  Conservative  social 
programme  was  not  so  different  as  to  win  the  voters  away  from 
the  experienced  Liberals, 

The  Conservatives  under  George  Drew  had,  indeed,  replaced 
the  Liberals  in  the  great  English-speaking  province  of  Ontario 
during  the  war,  while  in  Quebec  in  1944  French  Canada  safely 
released  its  racial  feelings  by  turning  out  the  Liberal  provincial 
government  and  restoring  Duplessis  and  the  Union  Nationale. 
Yet  the  Liberal  party  was  undoubtedly  still  in  the  ascendant  in 
Canada.  The  C.C.F.  which  had  advanced  during  the  war,  be- 
coming, for  example,  the  official  opposition  in  Ontario  as  well  as 
in  British  Columbia,  slipped  back  to  some  extent  in  the  post-war 
years.  In  the  general  wave  of  prosperity  that  continued  without 
very  much  break  from  the  wartime  period,  Canadians  on  the  whole 
did  not  seem  interested  in  socialism.  It  was  only  in  Saskatchewan 



that  the  C.C.F.  achieved  striking  success.  Coming  to  power  in 
that  province  in  the  war  years,  it  continued  in  office  afterwards. 
Under  Premier  Douglas  socialist  measures  were  carried  as  far  as 
seemed  possible  within  a  single  province,  although  they  stopped 
far  short  of  full  socialism. 

During  the  war  the  problems  of  federalism  and  sectionalism 
greatly  declined.  The  Dominion  government  was  able  to  exercise 
wide  powers  in  the  wartime  emergency,  and  patriotism  and  pros- 
perity both  helped  to  weaken  sectional  forces.  In  1941  it  is  true, 
a  Dominion-Provincial  Conference  held  to  consider  the  Rowell- 
Sirois  recommendations  had  foundered  on  the  opposition  of 
wealthy  Ontario  and  British  Colombia,  which  felt  they  had  little 
to  gain,  and  Alberta,  which  wanted  to  go  its  own  Social  Credit 
way.  But  temporary  tax-renting  agreements  somewhat  as  the 
Report  proposed  were  reached  between  the  Dominion  and 
provinces  for  the  war  period.  Dominion  unemployment  insur- 
ance was  also  carried  into  effect.  After  the  war,  moreover, 
there  was  no  swift  return  to  a  formal  state  of  peace,  for  no  peace 
treaty  was  signed  with  Germany.  Hence  the  broad  wartime 
federal  powers  could  still  operate.  Furthermore,  the  steady 
post-war  boom  worked  against  any  strong  revival  of  sectionalism, 
while  rising  new  international  dangers  again  took  most  of 
Canada's  attention  as  the  mid-century  mark  drew  near. 

When  the  wartime  tax  arrangements  came  to  an  end  in  1946, 
the  Dominion  was  able  to  make  new  five-year  agreements  with 
each  of  the  provinces  except  Ontario  and  Quebec.  Thus  the  scheme 
of  redistributing  the  financial  load  could  be  carried  out,  for  the 
time  being  at  least,  in  the  very  parts  of  Canada  where  it  was  most 
required.  And,  as  time  went  on,  almost  all  the  provinces  seemed 
willing  to  reach  a  fuller,  more  permanent  settlement  of  the 
financial  question  with  the  Dominion.  Meanwhile,  further 
changes  were  occurring  in  the  constitutional  field.  Canadian  citi- 
zenship, apart  from  the  general  status  of  British  subject,  was  es- 
tablished in  1947  as  a  natural  accompaniment  of  nationhood. 



Appeals  to  the  Privy  Council  were  abolished  in  1949  and  it  was 
enacted  that  at  least  in  matters  relating  wholly  to  federal  powers 
the  Dominion  parliament  could  itself  carry  through  amendments 
to  the  constitution.  The  right  to  make  amendments  that  would 
affect  provincial  powers  still  remained  with  the  Imperial  parlia- 
ment, but  Dominion-provincial  discussions  were  set  afoot  to 
try  to  reach  agreement  on  how  this  too  might  be  transferred  to 

Following  the  war,  federal  social  legislation  advanced  with  the 
adoption  of  a  system  of  family  allowances,  although  the  steady 
rise  in  living  costs  after  wartime  price  controls  were  removed 
offset  the  value  of  these  payments  to  the  Canadian  people. 
Immigration  meanwhile  began  again,  both  of  European  dis- 
placed persons  and  immigrants  from  Britain,  some  of  them 
brought  by  air.  Another  immigrant  tide  was  swelling,  which 
would  bring  nearly  half  a  million  new  citizens  within  six  years 
of  the  war. 

In  1948  Mackenzie  King  retired  from  political  life,  an  unde- 
feated champion,  indeed.  The  new  prime  minister,  Louis  St 
Laurent,  was  a  leading  French  Canadian  lawyer  who  had  only 
entered  politics  during  the  war,  when  he  became  Minister  of 
Justice  on  Lapointe's  death.  After  serving  briefly  at  the  close  of 
the  war  as  Secretary  of  External  Affairs,  St  Laurent  was  chosen 
by  a  Liberal  convention  in  1948  to  be  King's  successor  as  party 
leader.  This  choice  of  a  distinguished  French  Canadian,  fluent 
in  both  tongues,  seemed  to  recall  the  great  days  of  Laurier  Liber- 
alism. In  the  election  that  followed  in  1949,  St  Laurent  and  the 
Liberals  were  easily  returned  over  their  nearest  rivals,  the  Pro- 
gressive Conservatives,  now  led  by  George  Drew.  The  new 
government,  however,  had  to  face  an  ever-darkening  world  situa- 
tion, and  when  Mackenzie  King  died  in  July,  1950,  perhaps  his 
passing  marked  the  end  of  another  era  for  Canada. 



3     Canada  in  a  Two-Power  World 

The  coming  of  the  Second  World  War  had  made  dear  to  Cana- 
dians the  ineffectiveness  of  a  policy  of  no  commitments  in  the 
modern  world.  No  nation  could  stand  aloof.  If  it  did  not  share 
in  making  world  decisions,  world  decisions  would  be  forced  on  it 
in  any  case;  the  war  had  proved  that.  Hence  Canada's  best  course 
was  to  try  to  influence  world  decisions  along  lines  that  she  wanted, 
as  far  as  it  was  possible  for  a  small  nation  to  do.  A  world  organi- 
zation promised  the  best  means  for  smaller  nations  to  be  heard, 
and  though  the  League  had  failed,  a  new  association  firmly  based 
on  the  principle  of  collective  security  still  seemed  the  only  hope 
for  a  lasting  world  peace. 

During  the  war  Canada  had  gained  a  good  deal  of  experience  in 
world  affairs.  The  need  for  maintaining  a  joint  Allied  war  effort 
had  brought  her  into  close  touch  with  Britain  and  the  United 
States  through  'combined  boards'  of  all  three  countries  in  London 
or  Washington,  which  dealt  at  the  highest  levels  with  such  matters 
as  military  and  naval  strategy,  allied  food  resources,  air  transport, 
prisoners  of  war,  and  so  on.  Two  great  conferences  of  allied  war 
leaders  had  been  held  on  Canadian  soil  at  Quebec  in  1943  and 
1944.  In  addition  Canada  had  shared  with  Britain  and  the  United 
States  in  the  secret  development  of  atomic  energy.  She  held  one 
of  the  world's  chief  supplies  of  uranium,  the  raw  material  for 
atomic  power,  deep  in  her  North  West  Territories  and  built  one 
of  the  few  atomic  piles  to  study  the  new  energy  at  Chalk  River, 

Besides  these  close  contacts  with  her  two  mgin  allies,  Canada 
had  also  developed  contacts  with  many  other  allied  nations,  China 
and  Russia,  for  instance,  through  a  much  expanded  Department 
of  External  Affairs.  Her  Mutual  Aid  administration  also  trans- 
ferred war  materials  to  these  countries  in  the  general  interest. 
There  was  nothing  narrowly  national  in  this — except  that  Canada 
had  come  to  realize  that  the  truest  national  policy  was  the  building 
of  a  strong  and  healthy  free  world  in  which  she  could  live  at 



peace.  It  was  in  accord  with  this  policy  that  at  the  close  of  the 
war  she  became  a  leading  member  of  UNRRA,  the  United  Nations 
Relief  and  Rehabilitation  Administration,  whose  massive  task  it 
was  to  restore  and  rebuild  those  countries  torn  by  war. 

Canada  became  a  leading  member  of  UNRRA  because  she  was 
one  of  the  few  nations  at  the  war's  end  with  a  large  surplus  of  food 
and  industrial  goods  for  the  work  of  restoration.  This  fact  raised 
a  problem  in  Canada's  newly  active  relations  with  the  world.  Was 
she  a  small  or  a  great  power  ?  Beside  the  militarily  strong  and 
well-populated  states  like  the  Soviet  Union,  the  United  States,  or 
Britain,  she  was  obviously  small  and  could  not  exert  much  influ- 
ence. But  in  terms  of  her  major  war  effort,  her  world  importance 
as  a  source  of  food  and  materials,  and  her  industrial  and  financial 
strength,  Canada  was  plainly  not  small.  She  was,  in  effect,  a 
middle  power,  and  one  of  the  objects  of  Canadian  foreign  policy 
now  became  to  win  recognition  of  that  fact.  Other  middle 
powers  like  Australia  or  Brazil  also  made  similar  efforts  to  win 
that  standing. 

The  question  came  up  at  the  San  Francisco  Conference  of  1945, 
held  to  draft  a  plan  for  a  world  organization.  This  solemn  meeting 
to  create  'one  world'  produced  the  Charter  of  the  United  Nations, 
the  new  international  body  that  was  to  keep  the  peace  and  protect 
human  rights.  Canada's  delegation  to  San  Francisco  included 
Prime  Minister  King  and  the  leaders  of  the  opposition  parties. 
Their  work  at  San  Francisco  might  seem  to  recall  that  of  Borden 
in  Paris  in  1919,  except  that  this  time  Canada  had  already  won  the 
rights  of  nationhood,  and  that  this  time,  also,  the  peace  treaties 
with  the  defeated  enemy  powers  were  to  be  left  for  the  future — 
where  they  long  remained,  unsettled  and  unsigned. 

At  the  Conference  Canada  made  efforts  to  have  the  status  of 
middle  powers  recognized.  Thus  it  was  that,  in  various  special 
international  authorities  set  up  under  the  United  Nations,  Canada 
was  given  a  leading  role  when  her  importance  warranted  it.  Hence, 
for  example,  she  became  a  principal  member  of  the  Atomic  Energy 



Commission,  the  World  Food  Board,  and  the  International  Civil 
Aviation  Authority,  whose  headquarters  were  established  in  Mon- 
treal. But  in  the  United  Nations  itself,  whose  first  concern  was 
world  security,  Canada  could  not  hope  to  rank  with  the  great 
powers  on  whom  world  peace  depended.  She  did  not  therefore 
gain  a  permanent  seat  in  the  all-important  Security  Council, 
although  in  1947  she  was  elected  for  a  two-year  term  to  one  of  the 
non-permanent  seats. 

This  arrangement  of  the  Security  Council  with  a  few  per- 
manent members  exposed  a  new  and  unpleasant  truth  about  the 
post-war  world.  World  peace  really  depended  on  a  few  great 
powers,  and  on  two  above  all:  the  United  States  and  the  Soviet 
Union.  Britain  still  exercised  an  important  influence  in  world 
affairs,  but  by  the  end  of  the  Second  World  War  it  was  clear  that 
final  power  had  passed  from  western  European  countries  to  the 
two  great  land-masses,  the  American  and  Russian,  with  their  large 
populations  and  extensive  resources.  Canada  found  herself  in 
what  was  basically  a  two-power  world. 

The  Second  World  War  had  much  advanced  Canada's  own 
power,  international  standing  and  sense  of  responsibility.  Yet 
more  important  was  the  fact  that  Canada  had  come  of  age  in  a 
cold  new  world,  where  Britain's  power  could  no  longer  serve  to 
protect  her,  where  even  the  broad  oceans  could  not  ensure  security 
against  air  attack  and  the  atom  bomb,  and  where  the  Arctic  wastes 
were  no  longer  an  impassable  barrier  but  a  frontier  to  be  defended. 
Instead  of  having  her  back  securely  to  the  Pole,  Canada  found 
herself  looking  north  on  the  air  highways  of  the  world.  The  short- 
est air  routes  between  the  main  continents  crossed  her  Arctic 
regions.  This  meant  new  stature  for  Canada,  but  it  also  spelt 
new  dangers. 

The  dangers  seemed  to  grow  as  the  United  Nations  did  not 
fulfil  its  early  hopes  and  as  the  world  gradually  divided  into  two 
huge  camps  of  communism  and  democracy,  led  by  the  Soviet 
Union  on  the  one  hand  and  the  United  States  and  Britain  on  the 



other.  Canada  lay  in  an  exposed  position  between  the  two  main 
rivals.  As  quarrels  grew  in  the  United  Nations  over  the  Soviet 
Union's  use  of  the  veto  power  to  block  action  by  the  Security 
Council,  as  crises  repeatedly  appeared  in  Europe  and  the  Far 
East,  or  in  Palestine  and  the  Arab  lands,  Canada  faced  world 
problems  of  utmost  gravity.  She  still  could  not  decide  these  prob- 
lems. But  she  had  to  use  her  influence  on  them  in  any  way 
possible,  and  particularly  at  the  United  Nations  in  trying  to  re- 
move international  trouble  spots.  Beyond  this,  however,  it  was 
necessary  to  strengthen  the  defences  of  the  free  world.  Hence 
Canada  took  a  leading  part  in  forming  the  North  Atlantic  Treaty 
Organization  in  1949,  which  built  on  the  old  North  Atlantic 
Triangle  to  include  western  European  nations  in  a  pact  for  the 
joint  defence  of  the  Treaty  partners.  Canadian  rearmament  began, 
and  military  supplies  were  sent  to  Treaty  countries. 

In  this  two-power  world,  Canada  found  herself  tightly  linked 
as  well  with  the  United  States  in  the  common  defence  of  North 
America.  The  die  had  already  been  cast  by  the  Ogdensburg  Agree- 
ment of  1940,  but  in  any  case,  since  there  was  no  thought  of  siding 
with  Russian  communism  in  Canadian  minds,  Canada  was  com- 
mitted by  position,  inclination,  and  a  need  for  protection  to  the 
United  States.  At  the  same  time  the  common  ideas  and  interests 
of  Britain  and  the  United  States,  the  common  stake  that  they  and 
the  Commonwealth  had  in  a  free  world,  also  drew  Canada's  Com- 
monwealth partners  together  with  the  American  republic.  In  a 
vague  and  general,  but  real,  way  the  difficult  new  two-power  era 
was  bringing  the  whole  English-speaking  world  more  closely  to- 
gether than  it  had  been  since  the  American  Revolution. 

Nevertheless,  since  Canada  was  largely  and  even  basically  bound 
to  American  policy,  she  had  to  make  her  own  world  views  plain  as 
never  before;  for  her  great  neighbour  tended  to  take  the  smaller 
northern  country  for  granted  and  often  assumed  that  their  inter- 
ests were  wholly  the  same.  But  Canada  still  had  her  own  identity 
to  preserve  and  did  not  necessarily  believe  that  American  policies 


THE   MATURING   NATION,   1939-50 

were  correct,  though  she  might  have  to  back  them  in  the  last 
analysis.  It  was  necessary,  therefore,  for  Canada  still  to  shape  her 
own  course,  to  take  her  own  military  responsibilities,  and  on 
occasion  to  remind  some  American  authorities  that  she  was  a 
nation  with  her  own  mind  to  make  up. 

In  this  effort,  two  great  world  associations  allowed  Canada  to 
stand  outside  the  pull  of  American  foreign  policy,  the  United 
Nations  and  the  Commonwealth.  In  the  first  she  worked  for 
mediation  and  compromise,  and  by  no  means  simply  followed  an 
American  line.  Through  the  second  she  kept  up  informal  'family' 
consultations  with  Commonwealth  countries,  sought  through 
loans  and  agreements  to  restore  Britain's  financial  strength,  which 
was  still  so  vital  to  Canadian  trade,  and  joined  in  the  Common- 
wealth Conference  at  Colombo  in  1950  to  draft  plans  for  develop- 
ing the  backward  lands  of  Asia  in  order  to  save  them  from 
communism.  But  in  these  Commonwealth  matters  Canada  was 
working  outside  the  United  States,  not  against  her.  Indeed,  her 
hopes  in  the  two-power  world  turned  on  the  United  States,  the 
Commonwealth,  and  the  United  Nations  all  put  together. 

Yet,  as  the  mid-century  mark  drew  near  and  the  vital  question 
was  undoubtedly  whether  peace  and  a  free  world  could  be  pre- 
served the  relations  of  Canada  with  the  United  States  revived 
historic  arguments  at  home.  Some  Canadians  dusted  off  the  old 
labels  'colonial*  and  'imperialists'  for  those  in  their  midst  who 
freely  criticized  American  policies  that  affected  Canada.  Others 
warned  again  of  the  threat  of  American  dominance,  as  the  United 
States  loomed  ever  larger.  It  was  striking  how  Canadian  history 
tended  to  repeat  itself,  even  in  the  two-power  world. 

4    Canada  Gains  a  Nezu  Province 

On  i  April  1949,  the  original  plans  for  the  Union  of  British 
North  America  were  finally  fulfilled.  Newfoundland  joined  Cana- 
dian Confederation.  Thus  ended  a  period  of  over  eighty  years  since 



Newfoundland  first  rejected  the  Quebec  Conference  scheme,  dur- 
ing which  time  the  island  had  followed  its  own  course  of  history, 
although  still  much  influenced  by  Canada.  It  had  built  up  its  own 
proud  identity,  but  serious  weaknesses  in  Newfoundland's  econo- 
my led  it  at  last  to  merge  itself  in  the  larger  nation  of  the  mainland 
as  the  tenth  province  of  the  Dominion. 

In  1867  when  the  Dominion  was  formed,  Newfoundland  had 
a  population  of  142,000,  some  of  it  concentrated  in  St  John's  and 
other  towns  of  the  eastern  Avalon  peninsula,  but  most  of  it  scat- 
tered in  tiny  fishing  outports  around  the  rocky  coasts.  The  interior 
of  the  island  was  still  almost  unknown.  Two  problems  remained 
from  an  earlier  age  to  trouble  Newfoundland's  all-important  fish- 
eries :  the  fishing  monopoly  of  France  on  the  western  Trench 
shore5,  which  also  blocked  the  effective  use  of  that  coast,  and  the 
more  limited  right  of  the  Americans  to  fish  in  coastal  waters.  The 
first  problem  dated  back  to  the  Treaty  of  Utrecht  of  1713  and  the 
second  to  the  Treaty  of  Versailles  of  1783.  They  both  caused 
storms  in  Newfoundland  politics,  especially  when  the  island's 
powers  of  responsible  government  seemed  to  be  overridden  by 
agreements  reached  between  the  imperial  authorities  and  France 
or  the  United  States. 

The  first  few  years  after  1867  were  prosperous  ones  for  New- 
foundland, as  its  anti-Confederation  government  strove  to  show 
that  the  island  could,  indeed,  thrive  on  its  own.  Yet  good  times 
were  largely  dependent  on  a  healthy  fishery.  Although  sealing, 
whaling  and  lobster-fishing  were  also  developed,  the  island  was 
tied  above  all  to  the  great  cod  catch;  in  fact,  the  word  'fish'  simply 
meant  cod  to  the  Newfoundlander.  Hence  a  poor  run  of  cod 
catches  or  low  world  prices — for  the  island  sold  most  of  its  product 
abroad,  especially  in  the  West  Indies  and  the  Mediterranean — 
could  spell  disaster  for  Newfoundland  and  strain  the  limited 
finances  of  its  government.  This  set  an  enduring  pattern  for  the 
island.  The  government,  in  order  to  lessen  the  total  dependence  on 
the  fishery,  would  put  money  into  new  developments  in  good 



times,  which  then  in  bad  times  it  could  not  afford  to  keep  up; 
leading  to  a  rising  burden  of  public  debt  and,  finally,  to  bank- 

As  part  of  a  policy  of  development,  the  government-backed 
Newfoundland  Railway  was  begun  in  the  i88o's,  and  a  large  dry- 
dock  was  opened  in  St  John's  in  1884  to  improve  on  the  fine 
natural  advantages  of  that  world  port.  Farming  was  encouraged 
as  the  railway  opened  up  the  land,  but  the  small  population  made 
the  railway  costs  heavy  and,  along  with  poor  soil,  limited  the 
growth  of  farms.  Meanwhile  the  Great  Depression  that  had 
struck  Canada  also  affected  the  island,  lowering  the  world  prices 
for  its  fish.  Railway-building  and  other  development  produced 
brief  flashes  of  prosperity,  but  in  general,  Newfoundland  ceased 
to  advance  very  rapidly.  Then  in  the  early  'nineties  came  a  series 
of  calamities.  A  great  fire  in  St  John's  in  1892  destroyed  the  larger 
part  of  the  city.  Though  the  loss  of  life  was  not  large,  the  cost  of 
rebuilding  was  enormous.  There  was  a  poor  catch  in  1893,  an^ 
in  1894  a  serious  bank  failure  overturned  the  island's  finances. 
Newfoundland  was  in  deep  distress. 

In  this  emergency  the  island  considered  Confederation  with 
Canada  once  more,  since  it  might  no  longer  be  able  to  afford  inde- 
pendent responsible  government.  Generous  aid  from  Canada  in 
the  St  John's  disaster  promoted  good  feelings,  which  seemed  to 
promise  that  Newfoundlanders  would  consider  Confederation 
without  the  old  suspicion  that  had  worked  so  much  against  it  in 
the  i86o's.  Yet  in  the  Ottawa  conference  of  1895  the  Dominion 
itself,  pinched  for  money  in  the  depression,  would  not  meet  New- 
foundland's financial  terms.  The  Confederation  talks  fell  through, 
and  the  island  faced  the  future  on  its  own  once  more.  Fortunately 
the  world  trade  revival  after  1896  greatly  improved  Newfound- 
land's position. 

Improving  conditions  in  the  fishery  were  helped  along  by  the 
settlement  of  the  two  old  grievances  of  Newfoundland,  the  French 
shore  and  the  American  claims.  In  1904  France  gave  up  her 



rights  to  land  and  dry  catch  on  the  western  coast  through  an 
agreement  with  Britain  whereby  she  gained  a  strip  of  territory  in 
West  Africa  instead.  This  removed  a  serious  trade  rival  from 
Newfoundland  and  also  permitted  the  extension  of  the  Newfound- 
land Railway  to  the  western  coast.  In  1905  a  dispute  began  over 
an  island  attempt  to  prevent  American  fishermen  taking  bait  fish. 
It  was  settled  finally  by  the  International  Court  at  the  Hague  in 
1910,  which  decided  that  the  American  fishing  claims  were  an 
undue  limitation  of  Newfoundland's  right  to  command  her  own 
territory  and  resources.  At  last  the  island  was  in  full  control  of 
its  own  fisheries. 

In  the  prosperous  early  years  of  the  twentieth  century,  and 
largely  under  the  capable  prime  minister.  Sir  Robert  Bond,  New- 
foundland enjoyed  something  like  the  Laurier  boom  in  Canada. 
While  the  fisheries  flourished  and  railway  branch  lines  spread, 
valuable  progress  was  made  in  lessening  Newfoundland's  cone- 
crop'  dependence  on  fishing  exports.  Mining  and  lumbering  pro- 
duced new  wealth.  The  iron  mines  of  Bell  Island  that  reached  out 
under  the  sea  fed  the  Maritimes'  steel  industry.  Lead,  copper  and 
zinc  were  mined  in  the  interior.  At  Grand  Falls,  near  the  north- 
eastern coast,  the  Anglo-Newfoundland  Development  Company 
began  in  1909  to  produce  quantities  of  newsprint  for  Lord  North- 
diffe's  newspaper  empire  in  Britain.  Newsprint  became  a  leading 
Newfoundland  export,  and  the  pulp  and  paper  mills  raised  popu- 
lous modern  towns  at  Grand  Falls  and  later  at  Corner  Brook  on 
the  west  coast. 

The  prosperity  and  new  development  still  did  not  change  the 
basic  reliance  on  fishing,  and  led  indeed  to  programmes  of  public 
works  and  social  services  which,  though  limited,  were  really  be- 
yond the  island's  strength.  Moreover,  Newfoundland's  vigorous 
efforts  in  the  First  World  War  left  it  at  the  end  with  a  debt  of 
nineteen  million  dollars  and  greatly  inflated  prices  that  quickly 
collapsed.  Newfoundland  had  sent  its  men  into  British  naval  and 
land  forces  and  suffered  casualties  at  a  greater  rate  than  anv  other 



Dominion.  The  Royal  Newfoundland  Regiment  maintained  by 
the  island  earned  a  gallant  name  at  Gallipoli  and  at  Beaumont- 
Hamel  in  19165  where  its  strength  was  cut  down  in  one  day's 
action  from  753  to  68.  It  was  a  fitting  recognition  of  the  island's 
war  effort  that  it  was  afterwards  raised  to  the  rank  of  a  full 
Dominion  in  the  Commonwealth.  But  the  heavy  drain  in  men 
and  money  had  ill-prepared  the  new  Dominion  for  the  future. 

Consequently,  Newfoundland  did  not  share  to  the  full  in  the 
world  prosperity  of  the  1920'$.  The  debt  burden  remained,  rail- 
way costs  increased,  and  the  fisheries  were  affected  by  the  decline 
of  the  world  dried-fish  market  and  the  increasing  competition  of 
frozen  fish  produced  by  wealthier  Canadian  and  American  con- 
cerns. In  1927  came  the  award  that  finally  settled  the  indefinite 
Quebec-Labrador  boundary  and  gave  Newfoundland  a  large  in- 
land addition  to  Labrador  in  which  vast  iron  resources  would  later 
be  found.  But  in  the  I92o's  Labrador  was  still  only  valuable  to  the 
island  as  a  mainland  coastal  strip  with  whaling  and  fishing  stations. 
It  had  a  population  of  less  than  5,000,  a  quarter  of  it  Eskimo. 

The  grim  depression  of  the  'thirties  struck  Newfoundland  far 
harder  than  Canada.  World  fish  prices  sank  so  low  that  New- 
foundland fishermen  were  flung  on  relief.  Their  boats  rotted  in 
harbour  while  a  hard-pressed  government  tried  in  vain  to  feed 
the  fishing  people,  keep  the  railways  running.,  and  meet  the  debt. 
Reduced  to  bankruptcy,  the  government  in  despair  turned  to 
Britain  for  aid.  A  Royal  Commission  was  appointed,  which 
recommended  the  suspension  of  Dominion  status  and  a  return  to 
colonial  control  until  the  island  could  support  itself  again.  In 
1934  responsible  government  was  replaced  by  a  Commission 
government  appointed  by  Britain,  consisting  of  three  Newfound- 
landers and  three  Englishmen  under  a  British  governor.  In  return 
for  this  Commission  rule  under  the  imperial  parliament,  New- 
foundland received  funds  from  Britain's  taxpayers  and  began  to 
recover  from  the  worst  stages  of  financial  collapse. 

The  colony  was  still  far  from  self-supporting  when  the  Second 


THE  MATURING  NATION,    1939-50 

World  War  broke  out,  but  this  time  Newfoundland  did  not  main- 
tain its  own  separate  forces  and  thus  its  contribution  to  the  British 
and  Canadian  armed  services  did  not  cause  the  same  drain.  And 
the  new  conditions  of  this  Second  War  gave  Newfoundland  great 
importance  because  of  its  position  as  that  part  of  North  America 
closest  to  Europe.  The  air  age  turned  the  island  into  a  busy  air- 
port, a  centre  for  the  air  ferry  services  to  Britain,  a  base  for  patrol- 
ling over  the  surrounding  oceans.  The  extension  of  submarine 
warfare  across  the  whole  Atlantic  made  the  port  of  St  John's  in 
particular  a  powerful  naval  base,  where  from  'Newfyjohn'  the 
convoys  approaching  and  leaving  America  received  guidance  and 
protection.  The  problems  of  North  American  defence  also  brought 
Canadian  and  American  troops  and  money  to  the  island.  They 
built  a  chain  of  fortifications  to  guard  this  exposed  corner  of 
North  America  lest  it  might  serve  as  a  bomber  base  for  an  enemy 
attacking  the  continent.  The  British-American  bargain  of  1940, 
that  gave  Britain  old  but  much-needed  United  States  destroyers 
in  exchange  for  naval  bases,  established  the  Americans  at  Argentia 
and  other  points  in  the  island  on  ninety-nine  year  leases.  At  the 
same  time  Canada  worked  to  build  up  the  huge  airports  of  Gander 
in  the  island  and  Goose  Bay  in  Labrador.  The  war  had  changed 
the  whole  life  and  destiny  of  Newfoundland. 

At  its  close,  the  island  was  self-supporting  at  last,  and  prosper- 
ing nicely.  Canadian  and  American  money  in  Newfoundland,  and 
the  wartime  demand  for  labour  for  military  construction,  had 
helped  to  create  prosperity.  So  had  heavy  demands  in  mining 
and  lumbering;  and  in  the  fishery,  the  whole  catch  could  be  sold 
at  good  prices.  Furthermore,  the  building  of  filleting  and  fish- 
freezing  plants  adjusted  the  fishery  to  world  competition.  It  was 
a  stronger  and  healthier  Newfoundland,  with  a  large  bank  balance, 
that  turned  again  in  1946  to  the  question  of  what  to  do  with  its 

In  that  year  the  British  government  called  a  popularly  elected 
Convention  in  the  island  to  consider  some  new  form  of  repre- 


THE   MATURING  NATION,   1939-50 

sentative  government.  But  it  soon  became  clear  that  the  only 
choice  in  the  Convention  lay  between  independent  responsible 
government  or  responsible  government  as  a  part  of  the  Canadian 
union.  The  old  plan  of  Confederation,  never  forgotten,  was  put 
forward  again;  for  there  were  fears  that  the  island  would  not  in 
the  long  run  be  able  to  maintain  its  post-war  prosperity  and  would 
not  prove  strong  enough  to  stand  alone.  On  the  whole.,  the  outport 
regions  were  most  in  favour  of  union  with  Canada.  They  looked  to 
the  wealthy  federal  government  for  marketing  aids  and  social  ser- 
vices that  the  island  could  not  supply  itself.  They  also  hoped  for 
useful  subsidies  in  provincial  fields  such  as  educations  which  in 
Newfoundland  had  been  but  partly  provided  through  Catholic, 
Methodist,  and  Anglican  schools.  On  the  other  hand,  St  John's 
and  the  eastern  towns  opposed  union  because  they  feared  that 
without  the  Newfoundland  protective  tariff  larger  Canadian  firms 
would  take  over  much  of  their  business. 

The  question  of  "Confederation  or  Responsible  Government' 
was  sharply  debated  in  the  island  for  over  a  year,  while  the  fervent 
oratory  of  Joseph  Smallwood,  the  Confederation  leader,  set  the 
outports  afire.  The  final  result  was  a  close  popular  vote  in  favour 
of  Confederation  at  the  referendum  of  July  1948,  with  the  out- 
ports  almost  solidly  on  that  side  and  St  John's  and  its  neighbour- 
hood as  firmly  on  the  other.  A  deep  pride  in  Newfoundland's  own 
past  lessened  any  rejoicing  over  the  victory  of  Confederation,  even 
in  unionist  circles.  Yet  the  new  knowledge  of  Canada  and  Cana- 
dians acquired  through  wartime  co-operation  also  decreased  the 
old  feelings  of  suspicion  and  strangeness. 

In  December  1948,  terms  of  union  were  signed  in  Ottawa,  to 
come  into  eifect  in  April  1949.  Newfoundland  was  granted  size- 
able subsidies,  which  took  into  consideration  its  particular  need 
of  improved  social  services  and  its  special  financial  problem.  The 
new  province  received  six  members  in  the  Canadian  Senate  and 
seven  elected  representatives  in  the  federal  House  of  Commons, 
and  in  addition,  of  course,  its  own  provincial  government.  Pro- 



vincial  elections  were  held  in  the  summer  of  1949,  and  that 
autumn  the  first  parliament  in  Newfoundland  in  fifteen  years  met 
in  St  John's  under  Premier  Joseph  Smallwood.  The  Smallwood 
government  at  once  entered  on  a  programme  of  road  building, 
hospital  improvement  and  tourist  trade  development.  Newfound- 
land's new  position  in  Confederation  could  not  immediately  be 
evaluated,  but  undoubtedly  her  'fishing  poor'  of  thfe  outports 
proceeded  to  benefit.  And  Canada  gained  by  the  addition  of 
this  tenth  province  of  great  strategic  importance  and  as  yet 
undeveloped  resources,  especially  in  Labrador  iron  and  hydro- 
electric power.  Besides,  the  inclusion  of  over  300,000  staunch 
Newfoundlanders  hi  the  Dominion  provided  another  resource 
of  no  small  value. 

5     The  Life  of  a  Maturing  Nation 

By  1950  Canada  was  close  to  maturity;  still  young,  still  with 
vast  empty  regions  and  room  for  development,  but  much  more 
like  other  adult  western  nations  in  her  ways  of  life  than  a  raw 
pioneer  community.  The  old  simplicity  of  the  work  of  forest  and 
field  had  been  replaced  by  the  highly  complicated  patterns  of  mod- 
ern industrial  living.  The  typical  Canadians  were  no  longer  the 
settlers  and  pioneers  seeking  new  homes  in  the  wilderness  but 
farm-owners  and  wage-earners  searching  for  security  in  a  country 
that  was  already  well  built  up.  This  did  not  mean  that  the  people 
of  Canada  had  ceased  to  look  for  broad  horizons.  They  still  remem- 
bered their  past  of  nation-building  and  did  not  expect  that  process 
to  stop.  The  'true  North,  strong  and  free'  was  always  at  their 
backs.  Even  if  it  were  only  for  a  summer  holiday,  there  were 
always  the  wilds  of  lake  and  forest  at  hand.  There  were  still  bush 
clearings  in  New  Brunswick,  hardy  French  Canadians  pioneering 
in  little  colonies  in  the  forests  of  the  Shield,  or  new  Canadians  on 
frontier  farms  in  northern  Ontario's  Clay  Belt;  and  frontier  settle- 
ment was  still  going  on  in  the  Peace  river  country  of  Alberta.  The 
lure  of  the  far  North  West  or  of  the  mighty  Rockies  continued  to 



beckon  the  mining  prospector.  There  were  colourful  boom  towns 
like  Yellowknife  and  Eldorado  in  the  North  West  Territories  and 
unknown  mountains  and  hidden  valleys  in  the  heart  of  British 
Columbia.  The  cowboys  and  ranchers  of  the  western  foothills  or 
the  fishermen  of  the  rugged  coasts  were  not  mild  white-collared 
citizens,  and  the  northern  bush  flyer  ranged  as  free  as  the 
coureurs-de-bois  or  the  Nor'Westers  had  ever  done. 

Yet  most  Canadians  lived  in  a  world  of  towns,  factories,  auto- 
mobile highways,  and  fenced-in  farms.  In  the  east  the  countryside 
had  acquired  an  old,  settled  look  with  tall  elms  standing  in  close- 
cropped  fields,  lilacs  sheltering  the  farmyards,  and  orchards 
rounding  the  gentle  slope  of  hills.  Even  in  the  prairies  the  growth 
of  groves  of  trees  as  windbreaks  and  the  varying  of  crops  began 
to  alter  the  landscape.  In  the  towns,  the  bustle  of  life,  the  electric 
signs,  and  the  noisy  traffic  seemed  much  the  same  as  in  any  large 
city  of  the  United  States  or  western  Europe.  The  bigger  cities  with 
their  towering  skyscrapers  looked  about  as  prosperous  as  those 
below  the  border.  Canada,  apparently,  had  achieved  material 
success.  But  was  she  succeeding  in  other  ways?  Were  Canadians 
building  in  the  realm  of  the  mind  and  the  spirit? 

To  a  large  degree  they  were.  Canada  had  advanced  consider- 
ably in  all  the  arts  and  sciences  since  Laurier's  day.  In  the  field 
of  medicine,  the  discovery  of  insulin  as  a  cure  for  diabetes  was 
the  work  of  two  Canadians,  Sir  Frederick  Banting  and  Dr  Charles 
Best  in  the  1920*8.  In  scientific  research  Canada  came  to  the  fore 
in  the  Second  World  War,  when  her  National  Research  Council 
became  a  partner  of  Britain  and  the  United  States  in  developing 
radar  and  the  knowledge  of  atomic  energy.  Scientific  education 
seemed  well  supported  in  Canadian  universities. 

In  the  realm  of  the  arts,  Canadian  literature  had  become  much 
more  analytical  and  self-critical  since  the  rosy  nationalism  of  the 
turn  of  the  century,  but  this  in  itself  was  a  sign  of  maturity. 
Poetry  largely  turned  from  the  landscape  to  the  people  of  Canada, 
to  tell  stories,-  to  deal  with  social  problems  and  satire,  the  minds 



and  emotions  of  individuals,  the  everyday  world  they  lived  in. 
The  depression  of  the  'thirties,  in  particular,  strengthened  the 
mood  of  self-examination.  E.  J.  Pratt,  a  Newfoundlander  by 
origin,  broke  new  paths  in  Canadian  poetry,  A.  M.  Klein,  A.  J. 
M.  Smith,  Dorothy  Livesay  and  many  others  carried  on  the  work 
in  English-speaking  Canada,  and  the  same  kinds  of  current  moved 
among  French-Canadian  poets. 

In  the  novel,  the  writings  of  Frederick  Philip  Grove  closely 
observed  the  problems  of  ordinary  life  in  the  West,  Mazo  de  la 
Roche  traced  the  history  of  a  family  in  the  rich  Oakville  country- 
side of  southern  Ontario  in  her  'Whiteoaks'  series,  while  Morley 
Callaghan's  novels  caught  the  spirit  of  the  cities.  By  the  1940'$ 
younger  writers  like  Bruce  Hutchison,  Hugh  MacLennan  and 
William  Mitchell  were  striving  to  express  the  essence  of  Canada 
and  the  Canadian  scene;  Hutchison  on  the  Pacific  coast,  Mac- 
Lennan in  Nova  Scotia  and  Quebec,  and  Mitchell  on  the  western 
prairies.  Their  efforts  were  the  sign  of  a  more  mature  nationalism, 
no  longer  so  self-confident,  but  filled  with  a  deeper  consciousness 
of  Canada.  Again  the  same  process  was  going  on  in  French 
Canada.  In  1916  a  French  novelist,  Louis  Hemon,  wrote  Maria 
Chapdelaine>  which  described  French  Canadian  country  life  with 
great  charm  and  simplicity;  but  in  time  there  was  a  revolt  against 
this  romantic  portrait,  expressed,  for  example,  in  Ringuet's  Thirty 
Acres  (1938)  or  Roger  Lemelin's  The  Town  Below  (1949),  a  novel 
of  the  poorer  classes  in  Quebec  city. 

In  painting  too,  and  sculpture,  Canadians  were  making  distinct- 
ive contributions.  The  work  of  the  Group-of-Seven  artists  con- 
tinued across  the  'twenties  and  'thirties,  and  long  was  dominant; 
although  in  time  their  bold,  graphic  style  came  to  seem  not  revo- 
lutionary at  all,  but  almost  the  accepted  way  to  paint  in  Canada 
— which  was  not  entirely  good.  In  sculpture  men  like  Alfred 
Laliberte  and  Walter  Allward  left  their  mark.  The  latter  designed 
the  magnificent  Vimy  Ridge  memorial  to  the  Canadian  dead  of 
the  First  World  War,  which  was  unveiled  in  1936.  In  music, 



ballet,  and  drama  Canadians  were  also  active,  although  the  people 
as  a  whole  displayed  a  habit  left  over  from  colonial  times,  a  prefer- 
ence for  music  and  plays  from  outside  and  a  tendency  to  think 
native  Canadian  products  not  worth  too  much  attention.  The 
stage  did  not  thrive  in  Canada,  though  a  strong  amateur  theatre 
movement  and,  in  particular,  the  Canadian  Broadcasting  Com- 
mission provided  valuable  outlets  for  acting  and  writing  talents. 

The  Canadian  Broadcasting  Commission,  which  was  first  estab- 
lished in  1932,  was  in  fact,  one  of  the  chief  mediums  for  encourag- 
ing and  spreading  the  work  of  Canadian  writers.  In  this  broad 
country  with  its  small  and  scattered  population  radio  played  a 
great  part  in  linking  the  regions  together  and  making  them  con- 
scious of  one  another.  Canada  in  radio  adopted  a  typical  com- 
promise between  British  and  American  practice  by  setting  up  a 
government  broadcasting  commission  but  permitting  private  local 
radio  stations  as  well.  Despite  the  attacks  that  a  compromise  is 
bound  to  meet  from  either  side,  the  CB.C.  proved  a  valuable 
instrument  for  national  unity  and  national  education.  Its  develop- 
ment gave  further  signs  that  Canadians  were  beginning  to  develop 
a  culture  of  their  own. 

Of  course,  the  growth  of  any  national  culture  was  greatly  weak- 
ened by  the  racial  division  in  Canada,  and  by  powerful  influences 
from  the  United  States.  Canadians  lived  in  surroundings  much  like 
those  of  the  Americans,  spoke  the  same  language  and  lay  on  the  edge 
of  the  vast  American  market.  Hence,  inevitably,  when  the  anti- 
American  feelings  declined,  books,  magazines,  radio  programmes, 
motion  pictures,  and  later  television  from  the  United  States  readily 
poured  into  Canada.  The  external  features  of  Canadian  life 
seemed  to  resemble  American  more  and  more.  Canadians  ate  the 
same  nationally-advertised  breakfast  cereals  as  the  Americans, 
read  the  same  kinds  of  newspapers,  played  the  same  kinds  of  sports, 
dressed  and  talked  in  much  the  same  way.  *  Americanization'  was 
discussed  and  deplored;  in  fact,  in  1949  a  Royal  Commission  was 
set  up  to  study  means  of  promoting  a  truly  Canadian  culture. 



Yet,  while  Americanization  went  on,  differences  continued. 
Canada,  indeed.,  seemed  to  grow  more  conscious  of  herself.  After 
all,  she  was  rather  a  patchwork,  made  up  of  regions  that  had  long 
been  divided  from  each  other  and  had  often  been  in  closer  contact 
with  Britain  or  the  United  States  than  with  one  another.  Never- 
theless, a  Canadian  consciousness  was  growing.  It  could  be  seen 
on  the  C.B.C.,  in  Canadian  writing  and  art,  in  the  Canadian  uni- 
versities, and  in  the  rise  of  a  Canadian  publishing  world  centred 
in  Toronto.  Canadians,  to  Europeans,  might  seem  much  like 
Americans — perhaps  on  the  basis  that  all  foreigners,  or  in  this 
case,  North  Americans,  look  alike.  Both  Canadians  and  Ameri- 
cans, however,  sensed  differences  between  themselves  that  were 
small  but  significant,  extending  sometimes  even  to  dress  and 

At  the  root  of  these  differences,  besides  the  great  fact  of  Quebec's 
presence  in  the  centre  of  Canada,  there  was  the  fact  that  Canada 
still  represented  a  middle  ground  between  Britain  and  the  United 
States  in  ideas  and  institutions.  By  the  mid-twentieth  century 
she  was,  as  a  North  American  nation,  closer  to  the  United  States 
in  a  number  of  ways ;  but  she  still  preserved  a  British  system  of 
law  and  government.  Furthermore,  in  comparison  with  the  rich 
and  restless  republic,  Canada  was  a  cautious  and  conservative 
country:  cautious  because  her  path  was  harder,  and  conservative 
because  of  her  closer  bonds  with  the  Old  World  and  the  stronger 
power  of  traditions  brought  from  Britain  and  France.  Other  fac- 
tors that  made  for  difference  lay  in  Canada's  continuing  decision 
to  stay  within  the  Commonwealth,  to  remain  linked  with  Britain, 
and  to  maintain  the  ties  that  helped  to  balance  the  pull  of  the 
United  States.  And  finally,  there  was  the  thoroughly  Canadian 
influence  of  the  great  north  country,  which  was  all  her  own.  The 
North  was  a  reservoir  of  national  strength  for  the  future,  for  new 
Canadian  growth.  All  these  things  marked  Canada  off  from  the 
United  States  and  gave  her  reason  for  her  separate  and  still 
developing  national  identity. 




i     The  Mid-Century  Boom 

During  the  nineteen-fifties  the  post-war  boom  in  Canada  rose 
to  dazzling  heights.  New  resources  were  developed  rapidly  and 
on  a  giant  scale;  the  population  jumped  from  not  quite  fourteen 
million  to  nearly  eighteen  million  within  the  decade;  and  the  rate 
of  growth  in  national  wealth  and  well-being  seemed  to  give  all 
Canada  the  bright  glow  of  success.  The  boom,  of  course,  was  well 
under  way  before  the  'fifties  opened,  after  only  a  short  period  of 
business  readjustment  following  the  Second  World  War.  It  went 
on  expanding  with  only  brief  lulls  into  1957,  and  in  some  respects 
its  passing  was  not  fully  plain  until  the  beginning  of  the  'sixties. 
These  mid-century  years  thus  formed  an  era  of  exceptional  ad- 
vance, though  they  also  shaped  grave  problems  for  the  future.  It 
would  take  complex  and  detailed  analysis  to  explain  their  high 
prosperity.  Yet  certain  main  contributing  factors  do  stand  out. 

First  and  foremost  was  a  state  of  world  trade  that  markedly 
favoured  Canada.  Her  foodstuffs,  raw  materials,  and  manufac- 
tures were  in  wide  demand  for  years  after  1945,  to  help  feed, 
re-stock,  and  rebuild  the  many  countries  that  had  been  damaged 
or  devastated  by  war.  In  particular,  British  recovery  and  Europe's 
resurgence  under  the  American-sponsored  Marshall  Plan  pro- 
vided ready  markets  for  Canadian  goods,  while  the  fact  that  the 
German  and  Japanese  economies  had  been  shattered  meant  that 
two  large  industrial  competitors  were  temporarily  out  of  the 
running.  As  a  result,  Canada's  exports,  by  which  the  country 
must  basically  live,  enjoyed  an  almost  open  field  around  the 

Second,  Canada  had  already  greatly  developed  her  producing 
and  manufacturing  capabilities  during  the  Second  World  War, 



and  at  the  same  time  her  people  had  piled  up  savings  in  that 
period  when  ordinary  goods  were  scarce.  Hence  there  was  a  big 
demand  waiting  to  be  filled  at  home  when  peace  returned  and  the 
means  became  available  to  fill  it.  Consequently,  Canadian  pro- 
duction was  converted  from  war  to  peacetime  purposes  with 
surprisingly  little  letdown,  certainly  without  the  sharp  post-war 
depression  that  many  economists  had  feared.  Government  mea- 
sures to  re-establish  returning  soldiers  and  enlarge  social  welfare 
services  (in  part,  to  offset  the  depression  that  did  not  come) 
probably  also  served  to  'prime'  the  economy,  and  to  set  off  the 
great  post-war  buying  spree  that  ran  on  through  the  flush  times 
of  the 'fifties. 

Third,  there  was  the  new  wealth  created  by  the  opening  up  of 
more  and  more  of  Canada's  natural  resources  in  this  era  of  strong 
world  demand.  For  example,  the  tapping  of  new  oil  reserves  in 
Alberta  in  1947  did  much  to  launch  a  soaring  increase  in 
petroleum  and  natural-gas  development  that  made  many  more 
jobs  and  provided  more  varied  products  for  Canada  to  market. 
It  was  notable  that  these  advances  particularly  affected  forest 
and  mineral  industries.  While  in  the  years  1926  to  1929  farm 
products  had  formed  more  than  half  of  Canadian  exports,  by 
the  period  1951  to  1954  forest  and  mineral  products  had  come 
to  hold  first  and  second  place  respectively.  Still,  western  wheat, 
which  had  once  been  Canada's  leading  export,  did  benefit  from 
good  post-war  harvests  and  ready  overseas  markets  that  helped 
erase  the  farmers'  bitter  memories  of  drought-ridden  and  de- 
pressed pre-war  years. 

Fourth,  and  highly  significant  in  the  long  run,  was  the  flow  of 
foreign  capital  into  the  country,  to  invest  not  only  in  developing 
raw  materials  but  also  in  manufacturing.  It  was  only  natural  that 
foreign  investments  should  flow  in,  since  prosperous  Canada 
offered  wide  opportunities  for  rich  returns,  and  had  so  many 
valuable  resources  still  waiting  to  be  exploited.  Moreover,  the 
governments  and  people  of  Canada  generally  welcomed  the  influx 



of  capital,  because  it  enabled  large  productive  enterprises  to  be 
undertaken  that  they  could  not  have  financed  themselves.  The 
money,  however,  came  chiefly  from  the  United  States,  which 
needed  new  sources  of  basic  materials  close  at  hand  to  keep  up  its 
own  high  rate  of  growth,  and  which  had  long  held  many  interests 
in  the  Canadian  market.  One  result  was  to  make  the  Canadian 
economy  increasingly  dependent  on  the  American.  Another  was 
to  lengthen  and  continue  the  boom  in  Canada.  For  when 
Canadians  in  the  flush  of  wealth  began  spending  more  abroad 
than  they  were  selling,  the  inflow  of  American  money  balanced 
the  national  accounts  and  kept  up  the  good  times.  This,  of 
course,  meant  that  Canadian  prosperity  was  increasingly  riding 
on  outside  capital,  while  a  massive  problem  of  debt  was  being 
built  up  for  the  future. 

Finally,  but  still  important,  there  was  the  remarkable  rise  in 
Canada's  population  during  the  mid-century  years.  Much  of 
this  was  due  to  immigration.  By  1956  over  a  million  immigrants 
had  entered  Canada  since  the  war,  and  nearly  two  million  had 
arrived  by  the  start  of  the  nineteen-sixties.  Some  still  came  for 
political  reasons,  uprooted  as  they  had  been  by  Nazi  military 
tyranny  or  harried  by  the  ruthless  power  of  Communism  in 
post-war  eastern  Europe:  for  instance,  Hungarians  who  fled 
their  country  when  their  anti-Communist  uprising  of  1956 
failed.  But  more  came  to  escape  the  drab  austerity  of  Europe 
after  the  war,  and  to  find  new  prospects  in  rapidly  expanding 
Canada.  Among  them  were  Dutch,  Germans,  Estonians,  and 
Poles.  About  one-third  of  the  total  arrived  from  Britain  and 
another  third  from  Italy  -  although  proportions  varied  from  year 
to  year. 

One  evident  result  was  to  enlarge  the  non-British,  non- 
French  segment  of  the  Canadian  population.  True,  most  of  the 
European  immigrants  tended  to  associate  themselves  with  the 
English-speaking  Canadian  community,  thereby  keeping  French 
Canada  still  decidedly  in  the  minority.  It  would  be  years  more, 



nevertheless,  before  immigrants  of  many  tongues  and  cultures 
were  fully  integrated  with  their  new  surroundings.  For  the 
present,  they  had  made  Canada  an  obviously  more  cosmopolitan 
country.  In  cities  like  Toronto  and  Montreal,  large  close-knit 
foreign-language  communities  emerged  to  add  colour  and  variety, 
as  well  as  to  pose  new  problems  in  Canadian  life.  New  Canadians 
also  brought  with  them  valuable  knowledge,  skills,  and  more 
capital.  They  further  added  to  the  labour  force,  and  helped  to 
keep  up  the  vigorous  home  demand  for  goods. 

Immigration,  however,  was  only  partly  responsible  for  Canada's 
big  population  increase.  It  was  caused  as  much  or  more  by  a 
high  wartime  and  post-war  birth-rate:  Canadians  were  simply 
raising  larger  families.  This  increase  alone  would  inevitably 
have  spurred  on  other  developments,  because  of  the  ever-larger 
numbers  that  had  to  be  fed,  housed,  and  provided  with  goods 
and  services.  More  than  that,  it  helped  produce  a  striking 
expansion  of  cities.  Both  native  Canadians  and  immigrants  flocked 
to  the  booming  urban  factories,  and  to  the  expected  comforts  and 
excitements  of  city  life.  Urbanization,  the  crowding  into  towns 
with  all  its  attendant  problems,  became  one  of  the  outstanding 
features  of  the  mid-century  boom.  Skyscrapers  and  apartment 
blocks  shot  up;  suburbs  sprawled  out,  eating  up  fertile  country- 
side; traffic  threatened  to  choke  the  towns  and  impelled  costly 
highway,  subway,  and  expressway  construction.  To  cope  with 
the  complex  problems  of  managing  these  ungainly  new  urban 
'agglomerations',  a  new  level  of  governmental  authority  was  set 
up  over  Toronto  and  its  suburbs  in  1954-  metropolitan  govern- 
ment, which  largely  pioneered  for  similarly  troubled  Canadian 

The  impressive  growth  in  the  main  Canadian  centres  of  the 
south  must  not  hide  the  way  in  which  frontiers  in  the  north  were 
steadily  pushed  back  during  the  boom  years.  In  order  to  provide 
warning  against  air  and  missile  attack  on  North  America  from 
across  the  Pole,  chains  of  radar  bases,  radio-stations,  and  weather- 



stations  were  strung  across  the  Arctic  and  sub- Arctic  wilderness. 
Their  establishment  meant  the  opening  of  new  far-northern  air- 
fields, the  construction  of  supply  depots,  houses,  and  sometimes 
veritable  settlements,  in  areas  where  everything  from  bulldozers 
to  building  timber  might  have  to  be  flown  in.  By  1959,  the 
Distant  Early  Warning  or  DEW  Line  of  radar  posts  stretched 
across  the  top  of  the  continent.  In  the  eastern  Arctic,  Frobisher 
Bay  was  developed  as  a  main  Canadian  base.  In  the  western 
Arctic,  Aklavik,  the  port  on  the  Mackenzie  river,  was  moved  to 
a  completely  new  site,  while  traffic  mounted  on  the  great  river 
route,  and  on  the  Mackenzie  Highway  built  to  connect  it  with 
transportation  systems  to  the  south.  Still  farther  north,  ice- 
breakers of  the  Royal  Canadian  Navy  probed  for  shipping  lanes 
through  the  frozen  waters  of  the  Arctic  Archipelago;  oil-pros- 
pecting reached  into  the  distant  Queen  Elizabeth  Islands;  and  a 
permanent  weather-station  was  established  at  the  very  tip  of 
Canada's  Arctic  territory  at  Alert  Bay,  beyond  82,°  north  latitude. 

In  the  desolate  interior  of  Labrador-Ungava,  enormous  iron- 
ore  deposits  were  opened  up  in  the  early  'fifties  to  supply  steel 
mills  in  Canada  and  in  the  United  States,  whose  own  mid- 
continent  fields  were  beginning  to  show  signs  of  depletion.  Rails 
were  laid  from  the  port  of  Sept  lies,  on  the  Lower  St  Lawrence, 
three  hundred  and  sixty-five  miles  northward  to  the  newly  built 
mining  town  of  Schefferville,  while  the  abundant  hydro-electric 
power  resources  of  Grand  Falls  on  the  Hamilton  river  were 
tapped  to  the  benefit  of  both  Quebec  and  Newfoundland.  On  the 
other  side  of  the  continent,  up  the  mountainous  coast  of  British 
Columbia,  an  equally  gigantic  project  to  produce  aluminum  also 
brought  another  new  industrial  community  into  being,  the 
planned  city  of  Kitimat.  This  whole  enterprise  involved  revers- 
ing the  flow  of  a  river  inland  beyond  the  Coast  Range  and 
tunnelling  it  under  the  mountains,  in  order  to  obtain  the  great 
amounts  of  hydro-electric  power  needed  in  aluminum  refining. 

These  leaps  forward  in  iron  and  aluminum  production,  two  of 






the  vital  ingredients  of  modern  industrialism.,  were  manifestly 
important  aspects  of  resource  development  in  Canada  during  the 
boom  years.  Uranium,  the  source  of  atomic  energy,  also  played 
a  prominent  part.  It  was  already  being  produced  at  the  Eldorado 
mine  on  Great  Bear  Lake,  taken  over  by  the  government  in  1944. 
But  after  the  war,  the  demands  of  the  United  States  atomic 
energy  programme  (not  to  mention  Canada's  own  major  atomic 
research  centre  at  Chalk  River  near  Ottawa)  brought  on  a  rising 
fever  of  activity  in  uranium  prospecting  and